Vinegar is referenced in the Bible almost as often as wine, and is mentioned in Egyptian and Sumerian records dating back 5000 years. The Romans used it liberally and in 400 BC, Hippocrates prescribed it to his patients. Fast forward to France of the Middle Ages. Wine shipped along the Loire River was often subjected to less than ideal conditions. Hot sun and compromised barrels caused some of the wine to spoil. Nestled along the river, the city of Orléans became an offloading point for this vin aigre, French for “sour wine.” Over the centuries, the local vinegar makers perfected a slow and delicate process of conversion from wine to vinegar, defining the art of superior vinegar making that came to be known as the “Orléans method.”
Sadly, the industrial age brought faster, cheaper methods of producing vinegar in days or even hours. This quickly generated vinegar lacks the rich character and full flavor that only natural conversion can offer. Our vinegar maker is one of the last to use the Orléans method, handcrafting B.R. Cohn wine vinegars naturally in small batches. Oak barrels are filled three-quarters with high-quality California wine and a starter called a “mother” is added. The wood barrels add flavor and depth to the vinegar, helping it to mellow and mature. About 18-22 months later, most of the vinegar is drawn off, but a small amount is left to carry on the legacy.
B.R. Cohn offers five wine-inspired vinegars, each reflecting the rich character of the wine from which it was made: Cabernet, Chardonnay, Pear Chardonnay, Champagne, and Raspberry Champagne. All are bottled in attractive frosted Italian glass that reveals the vibrant colors of the vinegars. Perfect for gift giving or treating yourself, our award-winning gourmet vinegars are excellent paired with any of our extra virgin olive oils or in any recipe calling for wine vinegar. We also import an authentic Balsamic Vinegar from Modena, Italy, that has been aged 15 years in the “tradizionale” method.
The uses for vinegar are limited only by your imagination. Besides traditional salad dressings and pickling anything from fruit to fish, it can be used in soups and sauces, marinades and condiments, or even desserts.