Red wine vinegar
Cintra Estate Caramelised Red Wine Vinegar
From the Hunter Valley wine region of central New South Wales, this vinegar is made with cabernet sauvignon and shiraz grapes. Sugar has been added to give it a thicker, caramelised texture and more balance. It tastes and smells sweet and soft, like berries, and can be used like an aged balsamic in sauces and vinaigrettes, drizzled over a char-grilled steak or mopped up with chunks of bread.
HK$53, Great Food Hall, B/F, Two Pacific Place, Queensway, Admiralty
Maille Red Wine Vinegar
With its strawberry hue, this variety, made by a French manufacturer better known for its mustards, is slightly thicker than water.
It has a gentle rosiness on the nose that belies its hard-hitting astringency. The more complex fruit and floral layers are hard to find amid the acidity, which means it's best used in moderation. However, it does lack the richness one expects from red wine vinegar.
HK$44, City'super, citywide
Eden Selected Red Wine Vinegar
This is fermented naturally and seems unfiltered because it contains sediment and is quite cloudy. It feels a little rough on the palate, but there is a juicy freshness of flavour that wasn't present in the other varieties. The acidity is balanced and works well in a simple vinaigrette with olive oil and a pinch of salt and black pepper. Avoid shaking the bottle and pour through some muslin or a fine sieve if sediment is an issue. An excellent choice for the price.
HK$20, City'super, citywide
Essential Waitrose Red Wine Vinegar
Aside from its colour, which is slightly darker than cranberry juice, there is little to suggest this is red wine vinegar. It has hardly any aroma to speak of and tastes mild and one-dimensional, much like watered-down white vinegar. It might be useful in sauces, marinades or pickles - preparations that give it more time to penetrate ingredients - but it does not stand out on its own or in a salad dressing. It's a good example of the phrase you get what you pay for.
HK$19.90, ParknShop, citywide
Heinz Gourmet Red Wine Vinegar
In an age of marketing spin, the tag 'gourmet' could simply be a tactic to add a few more dollars to the price, but Heinz has actually delivered a product that is good value for money.
Don't expect much complexity of flavour, but it does have fruit and even honey notes and just enough acidity to perk up a salad. It looks slightly cloudy, which might suggest roughness, but it actually tastes quite smooth.