As-Salam o alaykum wa rehmatUllahi wa barakatuHu.
- Can you please tell if vanilla essence is halaal? The local products available in our country (Pakistan) do not mention the ingredients and they do not have a formal communication system to get that checked either. Is it permissible to use such vanilla essence?
- Is wine vinegar halaal?
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.
1) Vanilla essence is usually a synthetic (ie chemically produced) vanilla flavouring and is cheaper than the natural vanilla extract.
Vanilla extract is a solution containing the flavour compound vanillin as the primary ingredient. Pure vanilla extract is made by macerating and percolating vanilla beans in a solution of ethyl alcohol and water. Although 35% is the standard alcohol requirement, premium vanilla extracts often contain a higher percentage of alcohol in order to extract more vanilla flavor from the beans. 
Vanilla essence and extract which contains alcohol, is used as an additive in foodstuffs. It will be halaal to consume such foodstuffs that contain the extract on condition the alcohol in producing the vanilla extract is not made from grapes or dates.
2) Vinegar originates from wine. It goes through a chemical process whereby it transforms into vinegar. As a result, all the elements which render alcohol Haram are removed.
Therefore, white wine vinegar and red wine vinegar are Halaal for consumption.
And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best
Checked and Approved by,
Mufti Ebrahim Desai.