History of Vinegar

It’s thanks to wine that vinegar exists. It is the natural offspring. It’s a fact: leave a bottle of wine uncorked and it will become vinegar. _So, there’s no point in trying to find its inventor. It’s a stroke of luck that works so well. One finds traces of vinegar production in Egypt and in Mespotania more than 5000 years ago.

The old people’s drink
Since then, Humanity’s history is linked to this "sour wine" which the old people speak about. To be convinced then maybe you should read Aristote or Sophocles. In fact, during the Roman age, as well as Greek age, the most common beverage was, for a very long time, water mixed with a light vinegar. It was used for everything, not only as a refreshing drink, but also as a condiment. It was flavoured with herbs, flowers or fruit. It was also appreciated for the conservation of wild game and for its therapeutical properties… It is no doubt that it is the very first natural antibiotic of all time. Thanks to it for its use against miasmas, and a bit later, against plague.

The wildest experiments
In the course of centuries, the first matter was to faster its production, and there were numerous recipes. So much so, the vinegar makers – the corporation exists since 1394 – noticed that living matter accelerated the acidification. From then on anything was possible : vine shoots, brambles, vegetables, even fish tongues which were thrown into the wine! The scientist waited until the 18th century vefore trying to guess the vinegar’s mystery.

The veil is lifted
Despite all the most eccentric ideas, everyone agreed upon the necessity of alcohol, a certain temperature and air. But nobody discovered how was created the veil at the top of the bottle of wine after a few days… until PASTEUR, in 1865. His researches on the ferments and the role played by microscopic organisms made him understand the reason why there is an acidification. It’s a bacteria, an acetobacter, a 1000th of a millimetre, carried by the dust in the air. He named this bacteria acetic mycoderma aceti, because he believed being in presence of a fungus. This bacteria fixes the oxygen in the air and transforms it into acid. As the acidic fermentation progresses, the bacteria developped on the surface to form a light white veil known as the "mother" of vinegar. When this accumulation of bacteria becomes too important, the bacteria dies and falls at the bottom of the vat. This continues until the exhaustion of the remaining alcohol present in the middle. This is how PASTEUR understood how viniegar was naturally made and the way all vinegars have always been produced.