I made what I consider my first truly independent discovery in Vienna! Until then I’d been the tourist, with and without guidebooks, doing all the things — admittedly exciting and interesting — but nothing that gave me a sense of ownership or of something that I stumbled on. And then walking through the Nachtmarkt, which I visited with Marie-Therese and Alain on my first Saturday here, I found it.

A fascinating little place with bottles and jugs and casks — containing different types of vinegar. Not wines or even olive oils but vinegar. And the guy obviously knows his stuff! He was demonstrating vinegars with different grapes offering tastes in a manner more reminiscent of sampling perfume rather than wine or oil. Carefully he’d squirt out a few drops onto the back of your hand with a medicine dropper and tell about the grape, its vintage etc. Truly an experience..

Turns out that the shop is even more remarkable than I thought. The casks and barrels of the fruit and vegetable vinegars are not infused or naturally flavored vinegars as I’d originally thought but made from the fermented-then-vinegarized juices of the actual fruits and veges themselves. I bought a tomato vinegar with a wonderfully intense tomato flavor and might buy the fig and apricot ones before I go. The guy — he’s the third generation of the family that began this business in the 1920s or 30s — also had two non-alcoholic digestifs, which I’d defy anyone to identify as a vinegar. Rich, intense and complex, they are quite unique. Louise and Michel picked up one of those as a gift to take back to Quebec to some of their friends and I might have to do the same. And while vinegars are the main event, he also has large bottles of unusual oils — pumpkin seed, walnut etc. But alas! even he has not ventured into the realm of the mustard oil.

Here’s the website for the outfit: Viennese vinegars…

Check it out, and discover a whole new way to say Prosit!