A Taster's Journey is a newsletter on food, wine and travel. After 15 years of studying, tasting, teaching, and selling wine, I created this newsletter to not only share my passion about wine, but of food and travel as well. Each month I hope to share wines that I am drinking, food that is in season, restaurants that I have enjoyed, and places I have traveled. Enjoy!"


Vinegar – A few new favorites

June 2nd, 2010

A few weeks back I tasted some local olive oils in my cooking class. While they were delicious, the highlight of the tasting was a vinegar. It may be the best vinegar I ever tried. It’s called Allure Estates Balsamic Vinegar.  Then a light bulb went off in my head. Why do we always discuss olive oils, when vinegars are equally important in a good vinaigrette?

Allure Estates Balsamic Vinegar is made on a family farm on the Central Coast of California. The technology of making balsamic vinegar is very different from that of wine vinegar. Instead of using wine, it is made from must (juice) which is boiled down and reduced in half before being put in barrels with a small amount of vinegar for inoculation. Most of us are familiar with the superb balsamic vinegar made in Modena Italy.   Allure Estates does not claim to be a match for this Italian classic. Allure uses the Grenache grape rather than the typical Trebiano grape used in Italy. They also age the vinegar for 3 years rather then 12 as done in Italy. The final product is lighter in color and taste; and is fabulous.

Allure Estates Balsamic Vinegar

Allure Estates Balsamic Vinegar

I am not an expert on vinegars; but this product woke up my taste buds. It is fresh and vibrant. The acidity is nicely balanced with of myriad of flavors that are complex  yet reasonably light.

Allure Estates makes makes a half dozen other vinegars, and two others caught my attention. One is a Blackberry Cabernet which is not sweet or cloying, but has a subtle sweetness that’s nicely balanced with acidity. This variety  would be perfect for a salad on a warm afternoon. The other vinegar is Four Thieves, which displays herbal notes. Actually Allure blends Syrah with rosemary, thyme, sage, peppermint, garlic, and a touch of honey. I could not isolate each of these flavors, but I did appreciate the final product. Have you ever made a salad and added a grilled chicken breast to it? Well this vinegar be the perfect start to your vinaigrette. If you would like more information on Allure Estates, click here.

Lastly, I would like to mention a Sherry Vinegar that I have become quite fond of. In the past, I would typically use a Tuscan red wine vinegar when making a vinaigrette. Then I saw Spanish Chef Jose Andres on his TV show  singing the praises of Sherry Wine vinegar. So I tried Miguel & Valentino Vinagre de Jerez Reserva and loved it. This vinegar will add a rich distinctive flavor to your salads.

Tasting the vinegars of Allure Estates has opened my eyes to the breadth of flavors available to us, and I think I have only reached the tip of the iceberg.  It will be fun experimenting with new vinegars in the future, and tasty too!

Have you found a vinegar you really like?

4 Responses to “Vinegar – A few new favorites”

  1. Jean Brooks says:

    Ed would love to try the allure- sounds mouth watering. You are such
    a great writer- I need some salad dressings that you love as I have
    overdosed on mine. J

  2. Kevin White says:

    Ed, love getting these newsletters. Keep ‘em coming!

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Sounds delicious! Lately in Italy I’ve been seeing what is called ‘condimento bianco’. This seems very similar to what you describe, a lighter version of balsamic. There is one in particular that I’m addicted to, and I will make sure to leave a bottle of it in the house when you come!

  4. Alison says:

    Ed, I love the FIG balsamic vinegar from LuLu. They sell it at Geleson’s. Oh and
    also the White balsamic vinegar from Trader Joe’s.

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