Not to put too wine a point on it

Monday, June 06, 2011

Photo by TheCulinaryGeek (CC)
In a pinch, you can make red wine out of red wine vinegar simply by adding one part sugar for every two parts vinegar, and zapping the mixture in the microwave. The reaction takes about ten minutes per liter, and if high quality vinegar is used, most people won't notice that anything is up. Add a little grape juice, and you'll have even the most discerning connoisseurs fooled.

In fact, most low to mid grade red wines are stored and shipped as vinegar before being reconstituted at the bottling plant. This allows wineries to legally evade the hefty tariffs leveed against spirits. When Grover Cleveland infamously tried to close this loophole by taxing vinegar imports, he started the Spanish American War. The tax was repealed, and no US president has since been willing to touch the issue with a ten foot pole.

The "just add sugar" technique does not work with white vinegar, which is simply a mixture of salt and vodka (one of the first known methods for denaturing alcohol), or with so-called apple "vinegar", which is a mixture of salt, sugar, and bourbon cured in apple wood casks.

You can, of course, use this technique to turn balsamic vinegar into balsam wine, but since balsam wine contains wood alcohol, I wouldn't recommend it.

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