Spain is a country which is known for the quality and range of its wines. There are so many different wines that it’s not hard to see why Spanish vinegars too are a delicacy. The vinegars of Spain are created from its wines and are the result of the careful fermentation process of the chosen wine. Spanish vinegars are highly praised for the range available as well as the spectrum of flavours and varieties available. Different vinegars work particularly well with different foods and this is something which connoisseurs of Spanish wines and vinegars particularly enjoy.
History of Vinegar
Vinegar has been used since ancient times as a food preserving product but it soon became a gourmet flavouring. In Ancient Rome it was regularly used for seasoning and dressing foods alongside other ingredients such as natural oils, pepper and honey.
In the Middle Ages wine vinegar was used for cooking vegetables, dressing capers and olives. It was also used to marinate fish and meat and used for creating a range of mixed drinks including those which included bitter orange, pomegranate juice and even milk.
Vinegar for all Palates
Spanish gastronomy and cooking still makes great use of vinegars. Wine vinegars made from a wide range of wines and grapes are used for all kinds of purposes. They can be found as a key ingredient in gazpacho, sauces and marinades as well as a simple salad dressing and pickle ingredient. Spain is one of the world’s largest consumers of vinegar, which is in part due to the quality of the vinegars they produce.
Wine vinegars are made in many of Spain’s fruitful wine producing regions including Galicia, La Rioja, Catalonia and Castile La Mancha. Andalucia is the key area where sherry vinegars are produced and the area is known for producing oak barrels for the aging of their wines and vinegars, giving them a deep mahogany colour.
Aromatised and flavoured vinegars have also become very popular. Mixing a vinegar with a simple olive oil can create a sharp yet rich dressing, with the tang of the olive as well as the sweet acidity of the wine. Many different pungent herbs and spices from garlic to rosemary to lavender have been combined with and used as a key ingredient in Spanish vinegars. It is also possible to find vinegars made from cider rather than wine, usually produced in the Basque Country.
Vinegars are often used on their own as an accompaniment but they can also play a role in other ingredients. Quality Spanish vinegars are essential for producing the sweet, aioli which accompanies many tapas dishes and it can also be found as a regular table condiment, for diners to use as they please with a wide range of different dishes.
Though all the wine vinegars of Spain are renowned it is sherry vinegar which most evokes the flavours of Spain. The sweetness of this type of vinegar make it stands out from the crowd and evokes real memories of Spain.
Maria Cumming Panadero is a Managing Director in El Olivo. She is committed to sharing her passion for delicious, high quality olive oils and fine food from her homeland Spain.