“These vinegar come from a small winery in Germany, they started producing the flavored vinegar six years ago from red and white wines,” Alexander Albrecht who distributes the vinaigrette in the US through his small two-person start-up Vinegusto, told FoodNavigator-USA.
The non-alcoholic vinegar also have very low acidity because of a maturing process in oak barrels for several months. Lang Weinessig GmbH, based near Frankfurt, has three different types of vinegar: the dessert drinking vinegar, the vinaigrette, and the dipping vinegar.
“The drinking vinegar are more fruity and sweet. It was designed to go on fruit or ice cream, and you can even drink it because the acidity is reduced to 2 – 3%,” he said.
There are seven flavors of the drinking vinegar: quince, blackberry, vanilla bourbon, honey chestnut, Persian saffron, tart cherry, and strawberry. “Drinking vinegar are getting bigger in Germany, adding it to sparkling waters and such,” Albrecht said.
The start-up Vinegusto is ran by Albrecht and his wife Juanita. The couple just relocated to California to start a new life when one of Albrecht’s close friends called him up to make an offer he couldn’t refuse.
A family friend of the family-run Lang winery, the couple established Vinegusto to distribute the lines of vinegar to a US audience. “We targeted younger people in their 20s, they’re the ones most interested and like to live healthy and live a healthier lifestyle,” Albrecht said.
They started distributing the product in 2014 at farmer’s markets in California. “It’s where there are a lot of people with healthy lifestyles. Because of the weather, the farmer’s markets there are year round,” he said.
He said that most of the buyers came from the foodservice industry, experimenting chef using vinegar in everything from mixed-drinks to ice cream at hotels, restaurants, and cafes. The brand relocated to Chicago in the fall of 2015, selling out of a booth at the French Market near the West Loop in addition to online.
A taste for tangy
Vinegusto started marketing their drinking vinegars at a time when sour fermented drinks are gaining momentum, from kombucha to switchel. And while most of these fermented beverages are marketed as a high-end product, the drinking vinegar by Lang are placed at what Albrecht calls is “the tip of the needle.”
“The beverage started as a byproduct from the wine-making process. So when they designed the bottles [and branding], it attracts people. They make good gifts, and the [volumes] are carry-on compliant, people can take it on planes,” Albrecht said.
And like the other sour drinks on the market, Vinegusto touts the product’s health benefits. “Taking small shots can help you with digestion, the acidity in the vinegar helps break down certain enzymes in the body.”
“Regular vinegar already had known health benefits—so [Lang] made it really low in acidity to make it easy to digest, and to offer it to more than just vinegar lovers. It’s a different kind of vinegar, it’s a special one.”