The word vinegar is a derivation
of the French term vin aigre, which means "sour wine." It is produced by adding
bacteria to alcohol, changing it to acetic acid in a controlled fermentation
process. The alcohol can be made from grapes (red or white wine vinegar),
grain (distilled white vinegar), apples (cider vinegar) or rice (rice wine
vinegar). Balsamic vinegar is made from sweet white grapes and aged in barrels
for years to develop the typical brown color and mellow sweet-and-sour flavor.
Wine vinegars and balsamic vinegars contain sulfites to control unwanted bacterial
activity. There has been an explosion of interest in vinegars and many types
are available in supermarkets and specialty markets. Vinegar is an ingredient
in salad dressings, marinades and sweet-and-sour sauces. Vinegar may also
be used as a condiment and for preserving and pickling.