artisanal vinegars, Spicy Shrimp with Garlic-Almond Sauce
1. Martin Pouret Chardonnay Vinegar From France's last great Orléans artisan. DETAILS $13 for 17.6 oz; 888-212-3224 or formaggiokitchen.com.
2. Charbay Cabernet Sauvignon Vinegar An unfiltered, complex vinegar. DETAILS $28 for 12.7 oz; 800-634-7845 or charbay.com.
3. L'Abbé Rous Banyuls Vinegar Made from a sherrylike wine. DETAILS $18 for 17.6 oz; 877-337-2491 or chefshop.com.
4. Wente Vineyards Champagne Vinegar Subtle and grapey. DETAILS $10 for 12.7 oz; 925-456-2305 or wentevineyards.com.
5. Niebaum-Coppola Cabernet Vinegar A mild, barrel-aged vinegar. DETAILS $13 for 6.8 oz; 800-575-9927 or niebaum-coppola.com.
"I belong to a wine-tasting group, and whenever we meet, I save the leftovers to make vinegar with a starter culture I've had for eight years."
—Kimball Jones, chef, California's Wente Vineyards
POWER OF VINEGAR
Vinegar's value in the kitchen goes beyond flavor. Its high acidity stops the growth of bacteria and mold, which makes it an efficient preservative for everything from cucumbers to herring. Several published studies have even shown that vinegar can help kill salmonella and E. coli. And vinegar's antibacterial properties make it an effective disinfectant for cooktops, countertops and wood and plastic cutting boards. The University of Arizona's College of Agriculture & Life Sciences recommends combining one part vinegar with five parts water, pouring the solution on a surface and letting it stand for a few minutes before rinsing it off.