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Taste test: balsamic vinaigrette

Since traveling to Paris this summer, I have been adding side salads of spring greens to nearly every dinner I prepare. It's a simple, healthy way to add color, texture and nutrition to our family meals. And, in France, the salads are dressed with just a very light vinaigrette. I've been mixing oil and vinegars with various fresh herbs to try to replicate the flavors I remembered from our trip. This week, I asked our panelists to try some store-bought vinaigrette dressings to see if any would work in a pinch. Based on their opinions, I may not need to make homemade vinaigrette every time I serve a salad.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent


(out of 100)
Wishbone 90Archer Farms 87Kraft 72

Fresh herbs, rich color and a slightly sweet taste set this dressing apart from the others. "The darkness tells the balsamic tale and the deep, caramel flavor with a hint of sweetness equals a tasty dressing," said one judge. "It has the perfect balance of sweet to tangy taste," said another panelist. "This is a winner for sure." One judge said he liked this dressing for its "lovely, stratified layers of sweet, clear flavors." Tasters appreciated the darker color of the blend. "It looks and tastes like the dipping sauce for bread with a large amount of oil," said one. "It's a great mixture." Another described the store-brand dressing as "a true vinaigrette," referring to the "vinegar punch and a deep, earthy flavor.""This is a wonderful salad dressing," said one taster who raved about the thickness of the mixture and what she described as a clean flavor. "It's powerful, so be careful!" warned another judge. "A little goes a long way." Another panelist liked the "sweet and sour punch" from the flavors in Kraft's dressing, adding, "I would use it on a spinach salad with feta and strawberry."

they buy?
All four judges said yes.All four judges said yes.All four judges said yes.
Shopping information$3.19 for a 16-ounce bottle from Winn-Dixie.$2.99 for a 16-ounce bottle from Target.$3 for a 16-ounce bottle from


Also Sampled: Annie's Naturals ($3.49 for an 8-ounce bottle from Winn-Dixie, 35 points); Trader Giotto's ($1.99 for an 8-ounce bottle from Trader Joe's, 62 points); Rao's ($5.49 for a 12-ounce bottle from the Fresh Market, 19 points); Publix ($1.50 for a 16-ounce bottle, 29 points); Ken's Steak House ($3 for a 16-ounce bottle from Winn-Dixie, 48 points); Winn-Dixie ($1.75 for a 16-ounce bottle, 41 points); and Newman's Own ($3 for a 16-ounce bottle from Winn-Dixie, 42 points).

Panelists: Jeff Jensen, public information officer for the city of Treasure Island; Wayne Conery, retired restaurant manager; Kimberly Schroeder, retired nurse and guest taster; and Janet Keeler, assistant professor of journalism at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. All foods were tasted blind.

Send suggestions for product testing to: Taste section, Tampa Bay Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731 or email them to Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line. To read past Taster's Choice columns, go to

Serving sizeTwo tablespoonsTwo tablespoonsTwo tablespoons
Fat/Fiber5g / 0g4g / 0g4.5g / 0g
Sugars/Sodium4g / 290mg3g / 390mg5g / 390mg
Carbs/Protein4g / 0g3g / 0g6g / 0g

Taste test: balsamic vinaigrette 09/26/16 [Last modified: Monday, September 26, 2016 10:56am]
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