Sherry Vinegar vs Sherry Cooking Wine: What’s The Difference?

Sherry Vinegar

Sherry vinegar and sherry cooking wine may seem like the same thing.

After all, you can use both of them to enhance the food’s flavor. Yet, despite having a similar origin, there are several differences between them.

So, what is the difference between sherry vinegar and sherry cooking wine?

Sherry vinegar is fermented wine like any vinegar and has an acidic taste, whereas sherry cooking wine has a splash of alcohol, used to increase the sweetness of some dishes.

In this guide, we will talk more about these differences. So, read on!

What Is Sherry Vinegar?

Sherry vinegar

Sherry vinegar is a gourmet wine made from sherry, and sherry is a fortified wine made from white grapes grown in Andalusia, Spain.

Palomino, Moscatel, and Pedro Ximenez are the 3 primary grapes used in the making of sherry wine which, in turn, are also major ingredients used in making sherry vinegar. Each of these grapes has a distinctive taste which gives the vinegar a distinctive quality.

Palomino gives the vinegar a light and tangy taste. On the other hand, Moscatel and Pedro Ximenez are sweeter grapes that make the vinegar rich in flavor by balancing the sweet and acidic taste.

Sherry vinegar is kept and fermented in oak barrels for 6 months or more. However, they can be stored for 2-10 years too. The longer they are stored, the more concentrated they become. 

What Is Sherry Cooking Wine?

Sherry cooking wine, also known as cooking sherry, is cheap wine that copies the flavor and color of an authentic sherry. But, it is a low-quality sherry with some added salt.

Despite being a wine, you aren’t supposed to drink it as it is or mix it in cocktails or other drinks. Sherry cooking wine is beneficial when a particular dish needs sweetness or a splash of alcohol.

It has a sweet smell and golden color. The base is mixed with brandy after fermentation to increase its alcohol content. 

Sherry Vinegar vs Sherry Cooking Wine: Comparison Chart

The comparison table below will give you a clear idea of the differences between sherry vinegar and sherry cooking wine. 

Category  Sherry Vinegar  Sherry Wine 
Taste  Rich and nutty, slightly sweet Slight nutty flavor, caramel-like 
Color Dark amber color Light golden color 
Substitute Dry red or white wine Sherry wine / dry red or white wine
Origin  Southern Spain  Spain 
Alcohol Content 3% 17%
Shelf Life  You can store it for a more extended period Unopened-12 months

Opened- about three weeks, no longer than a month

What’s the Difference Between Sherry Vinegar and Wine?

Like mentioned before, even though sherry vinegar and sherry cooking vine come from sherry, they are both different products. Given below are some of the major differences.



Both sherry vinegar and sherry cooking wine are made from sherry wine. Sherry is made in the Jerez region of southern Spain.

Sherry vinegar comes from fermenting sherry wine. So it’s pure sherry even though it’s a bit old. On the other hand, Sherry cooking wine is not pure sherry. It’s a wine mixed with brandy and has added salt in it.

However, both sherry vinegar and sherry cooking wine have bases in sherry wine that originated in southern Spain.


Though both products originate from wine, sherry vinegar and sherry cooking wine have slightly different tastes compared to each other.

Sherry vinegar has a crisp, more acidic taste which is balanced by nuttiness and caramel-like flavor. The older the vinegar, the more intense the taste becomes. Sherry cooking, on the other hand, wine tastes like a dry sherry wine with a little bit of nuttiness.

You could say that both tastes similar except that one is acidic while the other one is sweet and nutty. 


Sherry vinegar is an intense amber color with some touches of mahogany. In contrast, sherry cooking wine can vary from a light golden color to a mahogany color to an even red color. 

Shelf life

Sherry vinegar has longer shelf life even without being refrigerated.

You can use sherry vinegar for an extended period as long as its container is airtight and is kept in a cool dark place.

Sherry cooking wine doesn’t have as much shelf life as sherry vinegar.

It can go up to 12 months unopened, and you can use it for about one to three weeks after it’s opened. However, it is not advisable to use it after a month of opening it. You should also make sure to airtight the container and store it in the refrigerator.

Like any other vinegar, sherry vinegar has a longer shelf life compared to sherry cooking wine.

Can You Substitute Sherry Cooking Wine for Sherry Vinegar?

Substituting sherry cooking wine for vinegar will not be good because they do not taste the same. Sherry vinegar is a bit more acidic, and sherry cooking wine is sweet. To stay on the safer side, it is better not to substitute sherry cooking wine for vinegar.

However, there are other substitutes available for both of them. For example, you can substitute sherry cooking wine and sherry vinegar with dry red or white wine.

Moreover, you can substitute sherry cooking wine with sherry wine or other wines such as Madeira, Marsala, and Port.

It is also good to know that sherry cooking wine has some non-alcoholic substitutes too such as the following.

  • Vanilla extract
  • Orange or pineapple juice
  • Vinegar + sugar + water
  • Vinegar + chicken stock/water

The amount of the substitutes depend on how much sherry cooking wine you plan to use.

How to Make Sherry Vinegar From Sherry Wine?

Making sherry vinegar at home is easy. All you will need are three simple ingredients including:

  • Vinegar starter
  • Sherry wine
  • Water 

Now, let’s get on to the steps:

  1. Slosh the vinegar starter inside the container that you’re planning to use. Make sure to cover all of the inside surfaces.
  2. Combine two cups of sherry with four cups of water to dilute the strong taste of the wine.
  3. Pour the mixture into your container.
  4. Cover the container with a cheesecloth or a paper towel and bind it with a rubber band.
  5. Place the container in a warm, dark corner and let it stand for at least three weeks.

The minimum time for the vinegar to get ready in three weeks. However, it could also take up to 6 months. The only way of knowing for sure is by smelling it.

Once you’re done with the fermentation, strain the vinegar through a cheesecloth or coffee filter and bottle it up. 

Related Questions

What is the best substitute for sherry vinegar?

Some of the best substitutes for sherry vinegar are:

  • Not seasoned rice vinegar
  • Champagne vinegar
  • Red or white wine vinegar
  • A pinch of lemon juice
Can sherry vinegar be used for cooking?

You can use sherry vinegar for cooking. For example, you can use it as a Vinaigrette in dressings, marinades, and sauces. You can even drizzle it over vegetables to enhance the flavor. 

Does sherry vinegar have alcohol?

Most kinds of vinegar are a result of the oxidation of alcohol molecules. Vinegar is the result of the fermentation of any kind of food.

Sherry vinegar is produced through the fermentation of sherry wine. So, in the end, sherry vinegar might contain a slight level of alcohol.

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