Red Wine Vinegar, a bit redundant there.

Since I am mentioning brewing of alcoholic beverages (ethanol), I thought that I would share something kind of funny that has to do with it. You see ethanol forms as the result of microorganisms, yeasts and bacteria, breaking down sugar molecules for energy, without the use of oxygen. So ethanol forms due to anaerobic (an = “without”, aerobic = “air”) processes.

Theses microorganisms would still break down sugars if air were present, but the result would be different. Instead of ethanol forming to make a potentially alcoholic beverage, acetic acid (also called ethanoic acid) would form. The term “acetic” comes from latin and means “sour.”

What is even more interesting is that the more common name for acetic acid, “vinegar” ALSO comes from latin. It comes from “vinum” = wine + “agar” = sick. So vinegar forms because the wine is sick.


So vinegar made from red wine is a bit redundant. ALL vinegars, an acetic acid beverage, form as an alternate for of an ethanolic beverage. I suppose beer base vinegar would be interesting too though.

Like learning about vinegar? Why not pick up a good book on use of vinegar as salad dressing! Follow the link (CIDERBOOK).

If you just enjoyed learning perhaps you could provide a small tip by going here.


Alcohol, really? Being a bit general here.

Sorry it has been a while, I will be doing more of these, I mean it. The more you show interest the more I will do. Comment if you would like me to cover something.

So I am going past this bar and I see a sign outside that says, “Alcohol” with an arrow pointing into the bar. As a Chemist I think to myself, “Well that seems rather general.” I go in and talk to the bartender and say, “Really, you want people to drink Sterno and wound cleaner?” He asks what I am talking about and I mention the sign outside. It clicked and he snickered, saying in a joking manner, “Yes exactly we are trying to kill our customers.”


For those not picking up on the joke, “alcohol” as a chemistry term is very general. It indicates a hydroxyl group (Oxygen single bound to Hydrogen) singly bound to a chain of carbons. You can have several of them actually, two -OH groups (a “di-” alcohol) or three (tri-) or more. The shortest chain of carbons to which this applies is not a chain at all, but one carbon, forming methanol (the main burning agent in Sterno). Concentrated alcohols are toxic to microorganisms which is why an alcohol, namely propanol that you can pick up in the drug store, is rubbed on your when you are injected with a needle or receiving a cut. Of course if you drink these, it would kill you too.

The alcohol found in beer, wine, and spirits / hard liquor (which requires a special technique) is a two carbon chain long alcohol that can be poisonous in large / concentrated enough amounts, but relaxes you (too much if you consume a lot) in smaller amounts. This is “Ethanol” (note concentrate this is also flammable and is sometimes made for that purpose like in small flammable lighters. Not very pleasant to consume.

So this (ethanol) is something to think about when consuming an “alcoholic beverage.”


Interested in learning how to perform this chemical reaction and make your own beer or wine? Why not get into home brewing!

Home brewing.

If not and you like what you have learned I would always appreciate a small tip if you can.