Bottle ends are a problem that plagues casual and, ahem, more serious wine drinkers alike. The remnants of that bottle of wine that, while good enough at the time, is honestly not improving with age and time on the shelf. Rather than drain it down the sink or worse, gritting your teeth and drinking it, consider turning it into vinegar.
While it’s true that wine wants to be vinegar, not all vinegar is equal. Leaving the bottle open to whatever yeasty friends happen by will turn the wine sour. While unlikely to actually attract anything unhealthy you can greatly increase your chances of cultivating a colony that produces good tasting vinegar by using a starter.
Unlike sourdough and wine, it is harder to come by vinegar starter that is marketed as such. However, look a little closer at the gourmet vinegars on yourself and you will likely find a few that are unpasteurized and hence will contain the original starter.
You can go all out and buy one of these cute little whiskey containers which purport to add a little oak flavor or you can do the easy thing and adds sterilized woodchips to a mason jar. if you do get a whiskey barrel use a hole saw to enlarge the opening in the top to allow your colony to breathe.
And that’s it basically that’s all there is to it. Add the starter to a few bottle ends and replenish as needed. Bleed off a little at a time and try a brighter vinegar than you are likely used to. Age the rest a few months and your finished product will likely be far superior to standard vinegar fare.
The truth is that the underlying grape juice does make a difference. And you can be certain that the quality of wine you are consuming, no matter where it was located on the shelf, far surpasses whatever bulk wine like product the average commercial vinegar maker uses.
I find this project pleasing for its intersection of the DIY Trinity: easy, frugal and better.