First they bottle verjus, which is juice from grapes that have been picked green and then chilled to freezing for a few days to make sure all yeast cells have been killed and fermentation prevented. Cooks like to use verjus instead of vinegar in vinaigrettes as it does not clash with wine. Some people drink it.
But if you prefer vinegar in your vinaigrette, Wölffer makes that too.
The winery’s first batch was released commerically this fall and is worth seeking out if you’re sick of balsamic (I’m taking a break myself), or have found out that many supermarket brand vinegars say “Red Wine Vinegar Flavor” on the label. I have yet to find out what that means. Is it like cheese food?
The Wölffer vinegar is made from rosé wine that has been allowed to oxidize, with the aid of a “mother,” until all the alcohol is replaced by acetic acid driven by ambient acetobacter.
Winemaker Roman Roth uses the Orleans method, in which the wine spends six months in old wooden barrels. The vinegar is allowed to make its way on its own time. Commercial methods aerate the vinegar to speed up production. In addition, says Roth, he now has a place to use wine he feels has gotten to oxidized to use in his table wine. “In the end,” he says, “we have nicer wine and vinegar on the side.”
He likes to use it to brighten sauteed greens.
From Wölffer’s website:
The amazing nose features classic sharp acidity, balanced by wonderful hints of oak and great yeast notes. There are ripe, oxidized fruit notes of peach, pineapple and limes. The mouth-feel is vibrant and tangy, with a refreshing aftertaste.
Use it to make a mignonette for local oysters.
Wölffer Aged Rosé Vinegar is $16 per 500-ml bottle, and is available exclusively at www.wolffer.com.