Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.
Dear Dr. Vinny,
They say there are no stupid questions, so here goes. I don’t possess a mother for making vinegar, but I do have a sourdough starter. Would it achieve the same results?
—Christopher D., Santa Rosa, Calif.
Wow, you guys sure have a lot of questions about making vinegar from leftover wine. (In the past I’ve covered making it from red wine, from white wine, why it’s a bad idea to try to make balsamic vinegar, and some ideas if your homemade vinegar is too acidic.)
While I can follow your train of thought, a vinegar starter and a sourdough starter are not interchangeable, because they’re used for two different chemical reactions. A vinegar mother is formed from an acetobacter (which converts ethanol to acetic acid), while a sourdough starter is formed with yeast and lactobacillus (which converts lactose to lactic acid). If you mix the two, I’m pretty sure you’ll just end up with a yeasty mess.