Good things can come from "rubbish." Case in point this sherry vinegar, vinagre de Jerez from Bodegas Sanchez Romate, of Jerez de la Frontera in Cádiz, Spain since 1781 and forming part of the
Sherries (post to come on this purely southern Spanish drinking tradition), are fortified wines including the popularly seen fino, amontillado and oloroso types. These sherries are used to make sherry vinegar, although the oloroso, typically containing a greater percentage of Pedro Ximénez grapes is typically too sweet for the acidic taste wanted out of common vinegar flavor profiles -unless a sweet vinegar is the goal- that is more often obtained from Palomino grapes.
Vinegar has always been a natural byproduct of making wines and sherry - although generally not a desired one - but it hasn't been until recently, say the last 60 years that this "rancid" wine has become a profitable and marketable source. Before the vinegar was given away, tossed out, or left on the bodega's doorstep, and the barrels had to be removed from the proximity of the others as to not encourage their acetic fermentation. Now much of the same care and time is spent perfecting the vinegar, since they use the same solera aging method as with sherry or brandy in American oak barrels. The minimum fermentation period is 6 months, while reservas will need 2 years by law and gran reservas a 10 year maturation process. Some may stumble upon bottles of over 50 years, while more expensive, it's rumored that their taste is unforgettable.
Vinagre de Jerez Romate (pictured above)
7% acidity (the legal minimum is 6%)
1 year fermentation
Amber coloring, smooth taste
I typically use it as a salad dressing ingredient. Although it is known to be a crucial ingredient in true Andalusian gazpacho, or other traditional sauces or soups, like that of salmorejo, my preferred salado salty summer refreshment. As well as, marinades, or a quick pick-me-up for grilled or fried fish dishes.
I've found it for purchase online here, or it can also be found at a number of retail locations of El Corte Inglés in Spain, where the bottle will set you back a mere 3.50€.
The bodega lists that its US distributors include:
Provvista Specialty Foods
239 NW Wilson St.
Portland, OR 97210
Zingerman's (love them!!)
422 Detroit St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Shaw Ross International Importers
2400 SW 145th Avenue, Suite 201
Miramar, Florida 33027
Phone (954) 430 - 5020