Basic Vinaigrette and Some Variations

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes

    1 cup

Appears in

Cooking One on One

Cooking One on One

By John Ash

Published 2004

  • About

This is the classic vinaigrette that the French have used for as long as anyone can remember. There are all kinds of variations on this theme, and you should feel free to experiment with different oils and vinegars or other acids. If you are serving wine alongside a dish that uses a vinaigrette, you might try using citrus juices instead of vinegar. The acidity of citrus juice is not as pronounced, which makes a citrus vinaigrette much more “wine friendly.” The key is to make sure that the acidity in the vinaigrette is in balance with the acidity in the wine. Milder vinegars such as rice, balsamic, sherry, and fruit-infused vinegars generally work better with wine for the same reason.


  • 3 to 4 tablespoons red or white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons finely minced shallots or 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon dry mustard
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • ¾ cup olive oil


In a Mixing Bowl, whisk together the vinegar, shallots, mustard, and some salt and pepper. Continue to whisk vigorously as you slowly add the oil in a thin stream. This will form an emulsion and the sauce will thicken. Alternatively, you can put all the ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake vigorously. The emulsion won’t be quite as thick or stable but it’s another way to combine the ingredients.

Vinaigrettes are best served within a couple of hours or so and at room temperature for maximum flavor. Whisk or shake again if it has stood for more than a few minutes.