Vinegars and Other Acids

Appears in
The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Cuisine

By French Culinary Institute

Published 2021

  • About

Vinegar has been used for centuries for the preservation of foods, as a component of light and often healing beverages, as a deodorizer and cleanser, and even as a health aid. Vinegar is the result of the natural acid fermentation that occurs in wine or other alcoholic liquids. It literally means sour wine (vin aigre) in French. The first fermentation converts sugars in liquids such as grape juice or malt wort into alcohol; the second, which is known as acetous fermentation, converts the resulting alcoholic liquid into vinegar. This acetous fermentation comes about from the action of the bacterium Acetobacter xylinum. This bacterium occurs naturally in wine-growing areas and the first vinegar was probably made accidentally when wine was left in the hot sun. Today, most vinegar is produced with the addition of a cultivated bacteria starter. The bacteria reacts with the alcohol in the wine and turns it into acetic acid. Vinegar is produced all over the world, with wine vinegars generally made in wine-producing areas and grain or other fruit vinegars made in regions producing grain or a particular fruit.