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The word vinegar itself is derived from the French vin aigre, "sour wine". Wine vinegar is made by bacterial activity thats converts fermented wine into a weak solution of acetic acid (the constituent that makes it sour). While there are a multitude of vinegar varieties available today, the French prefer pleasantly pungent wine vinegars, which can be made from either red or white wine.

The best wine vinegars are fermented in oak casks, like the wine they derive from. Red wine vinegars are full-flavoured, and hence match best with full-flavoured foods. White wine vinegars are lighter in flavour as well as colour, and can be fruity or bone dry. Among specialty wine vinegars are champagne and sherry vinegar. Champagne vinegar is made from the champagne which comes popping out with the sediments in what is known as the degorgement stage. It is similar to white wine vinegar in style. Sherry vinegar is made from sweet oloroso sherry. This vinegar is full-bodied and brown with a raisiny flavour, sort of a cross between balsamic vinegar and red wine vinegar.

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