Just back from visiting a sake museum and a vinegar museum in Handa city, just south of Nagoya. The two liquids are intimately connected as it was here in Japan, that they discovered how to make vinegar out of sake lees - a by product of the sake-making process.

Vinegar here in Japan is also made from rice - white rice produces a clear vinegar and genmai (unpolished rice) produces a black vinegar.

Vinegar and sake both came to Japan from China (like everything else, it seems) in the 5th century. Vinegar originates from Babylonia in about 5,000 BCE when it was produced from nutmegs and raisins. In English the word derives from the French VIN=wine and AIGRE=sour. Vinegar is an ancient cure for headaches when applied on a cloth to the forehead and a large tablespoon a day is supposed to lower cholesterol. Vinegar was offered to Christ on the cross (though not to lower his cholesterol), is used as a preservative in food and can be applied to jellyfish stings to ease the pain.