Vinegar is older than human civilisation. Acetic acid bacteria can be found everywhere. Therefore in those cultures where the alcoholic fermentation was used, vinegar was also discovered. It is known that exposing alcoholic drinks to the air for a longer period will cause the alcohol to transform into vinegar.
In Europe in olden times most vinegars were made from fruits, wines and beer. Nowadays apple, grape must and wine based products are the most popular.
The Italians are the uncrowned kings of balsamic vinegar from grape must. The first documentation dates from the 16th century.
Fruit vinegars, especially apple cider vinegar and vinegars from various berries, have a significant tradition in German-speaking areas. Artisan producers also create other specialities too, even from vegetables such as cucumbers, tomatoes and asparagus.
Finally it is important to mention the Spanish sherry vinegar from Jerez and one of the most ancient in the world, the Asian rice vinegar made from rice wine.