So I am opening my first restaurant soon (more on that later) and am trying to make sure that I do not waste anything. One of the questions I have always had in the business is, “what happens to all of the wine offered by the glass that does not get sold?” The most common answer I receive is it is given to the kitchen to cook with. As a chef myself I purchase specific wines to cook with. I do this for many reasons but the primary reason has to do with taste. I was always taught that if you would not drink it (because of taste not personal reasons) then do not cook with it. So why would I want to cook with wine that is past its prime and no longer good enough to serve to our guest. Then I found out that this is the feeling that many a chefs share. So as you probably already figured out most the wine is simply poured down the drain. What a shame and waste of money. Trying to figure out how to solve this problem I found an interest in making vinegar. I have played with this idea for more than a year now with plenty of failed attempts. Finally, and it arrived today, I purchased and entire production kit. The barrel, mother of vinegar, spigot, book, and other materials needed.
There is honestly much more to the making of vinegar than I thought. In all of my wisdom I simply assumed that wine going bad turned to vinegar quickly. Not true. The conditioning of the barrel itself can take over a week, and then the first round of vinegar at the least is a three month process. After that it seems to be smooth sailing. I kind of look at it like the salt water aquarium that I used to have; intricate, time consuming, and long days of waiting for the perfect conditions before you could introduce the fish, but then fairly easy to maintain. We will see as the time passes. The best part about it all is the fact that every bottle pulled from the barrel will have an active mother in it. The ideas are then endless. How would a vinegar made from bourbon taste? I have had rum vinegar and it was exceptional. What happens when you put loads of fresh thyme into the barrel, or dried vanilla pods? Tarragon vinegar? Of course, and with plants in the garden now over a foot tall that should not be a problem. The problem I do for see is not having enough barrels to try all of these ideas out in.