Devon October 20, 2004 Oh dear, the ongoing saga of the vinegar
has taken a turn. Mother, it seems, has roared back to life with a vengeance.
All week I've been feeding her the remains of some particularly good
Italian reds I've been sampling for an article on wines for the holiday
season: Pian delle Vigne Brunello di Montalcino, Le Salette Amarone,
a good Chianti Classico, some beefy Primitivo wines from Puglia, an
organic from Sicily. She has plumped up nicely and the white haze on
the surface and the strong acetic aromas emanating from the vat (which
I've been keeping in the dining room by my chair, much to Kim's annoyance
and disgust) has been encouraging.
It seems the vinegar is now so vigorous and, well, so vinegary that
it's somehow eaten through the rubber seal on the spigot of my 25 litre
vat, deep, red, staining vinegar seeping out in a pond all over the
wood floor. To be honest, I didn't notice at first, so intent was I
on reading about the latest Red Sox victory in the unlikeliest comeback
in this year's pennant race against the hated Yankees. My god, I cry
on discovery: what a dreadful waste! My god, Kim cries on discovery:
what a dreadful mess!
So, on the
dot of 9am I hot-footed up the church steps into town to the local ironmongers,
but nothing. Then down the road to the kitchen shop: all they could
offer were large preserving type jars, maybe 2 litres each. Fine, I'll
take three, clamber down the steps again, move the still leaking vat
to the kitchen sink. There I roll up my sleeves and hoik out hunks of
the slippery mother, now like a pulsing, living, throbbing bloody slab
of raw liver, and clearly ravenous for more wine. Blood red vinegar
running down my arms and staining my hands, I grab a hunk of the mother
and place into each of the 3 jars. Then I top up with the vinegar I've
salvaged, plus with more fine Italian red wines.
I've also been tasting some rather good whites. I know that white mothers
are supposed to be different from red, but why? I add some water to
the third jar to rinse off some of the deep red colour, then drain (hoping
that I haven't killed her). I've now topped up with Pinot Bianco from
the Südtirol, Chardonnay from Umbria, the remains of a rather good
Fiano di Avellino from Campania, a mediocre Grillo from Sicily. Will
it work? Will mother cooperate? Will we have white as well as red wine
be revealed, I hope, in the fullness of time.