Yes, I know, it usually goes the other way. Whether on purpose or by unfortunate accident, wine may become vinegar through the action of aerobic bacteria. In today’s blog it isn’t the vinegar that turned to wine. Rather, it’s that some vinegar helped me get a turn with some good wine!
A year or so ago, a very nice lady named Anne Vercelli came into The Beverage People, the home fermentation store where I am a co-owner (and daily worker). She was interested in making vinegar. Although making wine, beer, and cheese occupy most of our business, we carry supplies and provide information for lots of other DIY hobbies, too. Along with such things as homemade sodas and liqueurs, we have mothers, books, and kits for making vinegar at home. I have made a variety of vinegars over the past several years and was very pleased to share with Anne my suggestions and recommendations for her entry into the hobby.
Besides making vinegars and talking to customers about them, I was invited a couple of years ago to make a presentation on vinegar making in the Wine Garden at the Sonoma Marin Fair. Even with that experience, it was a pleasant surprise when Anne called me a few months ago and asked if I would like to be a vinegar judge. She is the Professional Food Judging Coordinator for the Sonoma County Harvest Fair, our local celebration of all things wine and food. In that role, she recruits and oversees judges for a wide variety of comestibles including appetizers, cakes, olive oils, vinegars, and so forth. I had never judged vinegars, but I am a certified beer judge and I have done some wine judging. Knowing there would be experienced judges on the panel to provide guidance, I was happy to sign up.
Anne runs a judging program that operates over several days at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, with different judges for different categories scheduled at several different times each day. At my appointed time, I arrived at the Showcase Café building at the fair and joined a table with fellow vinegar judges Debra Del Fiorentino and Bill Traverso. Debra is the Director of Wine Competitions for Vineyard and Winery Management Magazine and Bill is a former owner of long-time Sonoma County icon Traverso’s Delicatessen. Both of them have extensive judging experience, including vinegars, and they were happy to give me some guidance on the process....