What is Vinegar?

How is vinegar madeThe other day, my daughter asked me what vinegar was. Well, being a Georgia Tech geek and having a passion for chemistry, I told her what it was and how it was made. She thought that others might want to know and suggested I post it on McNack’s, however, I’ll spare you the perfectly balanced chemical equations!

So, what is vinegar?

At the highest-level, vinegar is what is produced when alcohol continues to ferment. When certain foods (e.g. fruits and grains) begin to break down (ferment), the sugars turn into alcohol. This is something a lot of us like because that is what gives us wine and liquor! However, if the fermentation process is not stopped or is allowed to start up again, then the alcohol will get broken down again by different organisms and will produce vinegar. That’s it!

Where does the word vinegar come from?

Any of you take French back in the day? If so, you probably remember that the word for wine in French is ‘Vin’. Well, the word vinegar comes from the French words ‘Vin’ (wine) and ‘Aigre’ (sour), combined to become the word vinaigre. So, the next time you open a bottle of wine, don’t finish it and then forget about it for a couple of weeks, you’ll know why it tastes sour. Maybe you should try to make a vinaigrette out of it!

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