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Before the wine becomes vinegar, the fruit must first grow. Gegenbauer is in constant contact with each of his producers, most of them are growing their fruits right outside the gates of Vienna. "If I do not have a perfect starting material, I already have the wrong attitude in my head," says the flavor conservator with all of his passion.
Alone alcoholic fermentation is a science in itself for Gegenbauer. If the fruit is crushed, it is fermented alcoholically with pure self-yeast. An example: For a liter of raspberry vinegar, about twelve kilograms of raspberries are necessary. The fermentation stops Gegenbauer at six degrees acidity, because the degree of alcohol later makes up the vinegar.
If the fruit wine is made from grapes from selected top producers, from paprika, asparagus or quince, about 20 liters of it are filled in the state-of-the-art, custom-made small fermenter. Under optimal conditions, ie a temperature regulation and appropriate air supply, the yeasts ferment the alcohol within ten to 14 days to vinegar. Despite all modern devices, Gegenbauer personally checks the highly sensitive process every few hours. What does not exist in front of his palate ends up in the Viennese sewerage system.
Two years of maturation for the wine vinegar and three years of maturation for the fruit vinegar in the cellar, however, separate the product from the sales counter, because good vinegar is also a matter of patience. Gegenbauer must be even more patient with balsamic vinegar. Here, the freshly squeezed fruit juice is first boiled until the fruit's own sugar gives the later balm the dark color. This reduction is fermented to alcohol and exposed to the weather for five years in old oak barrels. While the vinegar sleeps in the winter, it works in the summer and loses in the exchange of air through the wood pores in the first year ten, eight percent in the second year and in the following years a little more liquid and thus gains in intensity and aroma.