Can I use distilled white vinegar instead of white wine vinegar when making my own dressing for gifts?
I am making my own flavored vinegar for the first time and most of the recipes call fro white wine vinegar but it's hard to find and expensive. Would white distilled be okay?
If you are in the do it yourself mood and you have lots of lead time, you can make white wine vinegar better and less expensively than store bought. Buy the cheapest bottle of white wine you can find, usually $2.99 or $3.99 and store it in a non-reactive dish (glass or pottery is traditional) with some vinegar making mother. Mother is available in Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar or from beer/wine hobby stores in person or online. Decent instructions here: http://blog.vintagecellars.com/2010/06/how-to-make-your-own-white-wine-vinegar/
The flavors are very different -- white wine vinegar is made from white wine, while white vinegar is made from a distilled spirit.
If you had to substitute white wine vinegar, I'd go with one of the following:
- champagne vinegar (made from sparking wine; tends to be more mild than white wine vinegar)
- rice vinegar (tends to be more mild / lower acid)
- cider vinegar (more acidic, but has some sweeter notes that help balance it out)
Distilled white vinegar is indeed found in some vinaigrette recipes, but the flavour is much sharper, without any accompanying wine-like aromatics. It does have the advantage that you need far less of it and will water down your dressing less. It usually comes in two varieties, one that is 10%, double the strength of normal table vinegar, the other is 25% - five times the strength (do not try drinking this stuff neat!).
Also, since that was asked in a deleted sub-question, and is useful to know: There is no relevant (of any capability to make you drunk) alcohol content in it, very likely less than in fruit juice. If you absolutely want to avoid even trace amounts of alcohol, you might want to consider using so called non-brewed condiment.