In much the same way that cooking with wine that doesn't taste great doesn't make much sense, making vinegar with bad wine gives a less than delicious finished product. Across the Mediterranen Sea from Provence, just north of the Spanish/French border lies Banyuls-sur-Mer, a beautiful coastal town that is home to an incredible, slightly sweet wine made of 90% Grenache grapes. The vinegar is aged 4-6 years in oak barrels stored outdoors, exposing the vinegar to the cool sea breezes and chilly winds off the Pyrenees. The fully developed flavor is slightly bitter with nutty undertones and a sweet vanilla aroma.
We love to use this vinegar for deglazing pans. Usually wine is our preference for deglazing, but a vinegar as deep in flavor as Banyuls only intensifies when reduced over heat. Sauté a mound of wild mushrooms in olive oil and deglaze the pan. If you're feeling really decadent, serve a slab of seared foie gras over the mushrooms and drizzle the reduced pan juices over top.