White Wine Vinegar vs. White Vinegar: 7 Differences

White vinegar is the one ingredient that many households have in common. Whether it’s being used for cooking, cleaning, gardening or even medicinally, almost every pantry has a bottle of it.

Another popular household ingredient is white wine vinegar. To a novice, the two might sound like the same, but there are a few key differences. Today we’re going to explore the characteristics of these two versatile vinegars and what they’re commonly used for!

We’ll also be looking at whether or not they can be interchanged in a recipe and what some popular substitutes are. Read on to get all the info you need on white wine vinegar and white vinegar.

What Makes White Wine Vinegar Different from White Vinegar?

As any ardent cook or homemaker will tell you, white wine vinegar and regular white vinegar aren’t the same. Despite both products being a type of vinegar, each type serves a different purpose.

How is Each Vinegar Made?

The most discerning difference is how vinegar is made. It’s a common misconception to think that all kinds of vinegars are made the same. The various ways in which different types of vinegars are made are what makes them so different.

White Vinegar

white vinegar
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Essentially, white vinegar is made when grain-based alcohol such as vodka is broken down with acetic acid bacteria. When this process is complete, this acetic acid product is white vinegar.

On average it takes anywhere between three weeks to six months to make homemade vinegar. So, if you’re going to be making a batch at home, remember to start the process well in advance.

White Wine Vinegar

white wine vinegar
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As the name suggests, white wine vinegar is made using white wine. Large quantities of white wine are put into large stainless steel vats referred to as acetors.

The ethanol in the wine is exposed to oxygen which then creates an acetic acid byproduct. Eventually, water is added to the mixture making it less acidic. As with white vinegar, this process can take anywhere up to 6 months to completely ferment the wine. The deciding factor will be the type of wine chosen.

Do They Look the Same?

For the most part, the easiest way to identify each vinegar is visual appearance. Despite different vinegars having similarly strong, acidic aromas, their colors might vary by type and brand.

White Vinegar

White vinegar is clear and resembles distilled water. Of all the different vinegar types, white vinegar is the clearest, hence the name “white vinegar.”

White Wine Vinegar

White wine vinegar is off-white and may be cloudier in some instances. Some brands might also have a yellow hue.

Do These Two Kinds of Vinegar Smell the Same?

Despite both products being types of vinegar, there’s a distinctive difference in the smell. It’s an easy way to differentiate the two.

White Vinegar

White vinegar has a distinctive strong smell. In fact, its sour odor might leave you thinking it’s too pungent for food! But the acidity in white vinegar is often the reason for the unique taste.

White Wine Vinegar

On the other hand, white wine vinegar generally has a fruitier aroma since it’s made from wine originally. The strength of the fruitiness varies between brands.

Are They the Same Strength?

A mistake vinegar novices often make is assuming they all smell, taste and have the same strength. There’s a distinctive difference between the strength of white vinegar and white wine vinegar.

White Vinegar

White Vinegar is much stronger and possibly the strongest of all the vinegars. Generally, white vinegar has an acetic level of up to 10%. Its strength is what makes it an effective cleaning agent. This same strength makes it too strong for most recipes unless it’s diluted with sugar or apple cider vinegar.

White Wine Vinegar

While white wine vinegar is slightly more subtle than regular white vinegar, it still has its uses which vary from cooking to cleaning. The acetic level in white wine vinegar ranges between 5 and 7%. A lower acidity with a fruitier taste makes it perfect for salads and sauces.

Common Uses of Each Type of Vinegar

One of the many reasons most households have some type of vinegar is its versatility. Read on to see some of the common uses of both white wine and regular white vinegar.

White Vinegar

Common Uses of White Vinegar
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Despite its many kitchen uses, white vinegar also has several other popular uses around the home. Some of which include:

  • Use to tenderize meats and seafood
  • Use together with baking soda as a leavening agent for baked goods
  • Spray white vinegar on glass surface and doors to get a streak-free shine
  • Use to descale kettles, steam irons and coffee machines
  • Removes odors from kitchen sinks and draining boards
  • Out of fabric conditioner? Add 40ml of white vinegar to your machine dispenser
  • Spray onto color-safe fabrics to remove stubborn dirt and stains
  • Mask pet odors by spraying around the home

White Wine Vinegar

Common Uses of White Wine Vinegar
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White wine vinegar has its primary function in the kitchen. If it’s not standing on the table as a condiment, it’s in the food as a salad dressing or the meat sauce as a reduction. Some of the more common uses include:

  • White wine vinegar is used as a condiment.
  • Salad dressing for a host of different salads.
  • Can be used as a tartar sauce base for fish and seafood dishes.
  • Sauces such as mayonnaise use white wine vinegar as a base.
  • While not as strong as white vinegar, can also be used as a cleaning agent.
  • Add to the boiling water you cook broccoli in to reduce intestinal swelling
  • Strong ant repellant – simply place a cotton pad soaked in white wine vinegar where ants are found
  • Removes onion smell from hands
  • Ideal for removing onion smell from hands

Do These Two Kinds of Vinegars Have Any Health Benefits?

These days, many folks are becoming increasingly more health-conscious. That means they scrutinize every ingredient that’s added to their foods. With the high acidity levels found in vinegars, you might be wondering if these products have any health benefits.

White Vinegar

The health benefits of white vinegar are well noted and a few of them include the following:

  • Controls blood sugar and insulin levels, which is why it’s popular as a salad dressing
  • White vinegar slows the rate at which the stomach empties, reducing calorie intake
  • The antimicrobial properties in white vinegar ward off ailments such as warts, ear infections and nail funguses
  • Can be used as a topical treatment for burns

White Wine Vinegar

This type of vinegar has a high concentration of mineral salts such as potassium, iron, magnesium and phosphorus. Some of the health benefits of white wine vinegar include the following:

  • Grape polyphenols make it a natural antioxidant
  • Absence of cholesterol makes it an ideal alternative to high-calorie salad dressings
  • Slows down digestion meaning it increases the feeling of satiety (you’ll eat less to feel full)

Can White Wine Vinegar be Substituted with White Vinegar?

The short answer to this question is no. These two types of vinegars taste very different and will potentially spoil any recipes they don’t really belong in.

Chefs and home cooks recommend using a few teaspoons of sugar mixed with white vinegar to remove some of the acidity if your only option is to use white vinegar. There are other alternatives to substitute with if you don’t have the specific vinegar you need.

White Vinegar Substitute

If your recipe calls for some white vinegar and you’ve just used your last batch to clean the fridge, the good news is, you can use the following as substitutes:

  • Lemon or lime juice: Lemon juice is the perfect substitute for vinegar in any baking recipes. A ⅓ cup of lemon juice easily replaces ¼ cup of vinegar.
  • Apple cider vinegar: If you don’t have regular white vinegar, a common replacement is apple cider vinegar. Your dish will have a fruitier taste as a result.
  • Regular wine: Fortified or regular wine is a good replacement for vinegar in sauces and reductions.
  • Tamarind paste: Tamarind paste is a well-known replacement for vinegar in meaty or spicy dishes.

White Wine Vinegar Substitute

If you don’t have white wine vinegar for your salads or sauces, consider the following:

  • Red wine vinegar: Since both white and red wine vinegar are made from grapes, it’s easy to interchange them in recipes. There might be a slight color change to be aware of.
  • White rice vinegar: Made from fermented rice, a sweeter and milder flavor will add a unique taste to your dish.
  • Apple cider vinegar: Despite being more acidic, apple cider vinegar has a fruity flavor and is the perfect substitute for white wine vinegar.

Final Thought

From the information in this article, it’s clear that white vinegar isn’t the same as white wine vinegar. Ordinarily, white vinegar shouldn’t be used as a substitute for white wine vinegar. If you have no other option, add a few teaspoons of sugar to the white vinegar.

When it comes to cleaning, white vinegar is the better option. Its acidic levels are excellent for removing stubborn and tough stains. With their many health benefits, it’s always a good idea to keep a bottle of each in your pantry!

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