“Sour makes happy” (German expression)

A way of life to manage emotional, physical and mental health – interview with Kurt Ammann

In 1995, Rolf Saxer visited me on our small family wine farm, Rozendal, in Stellenbosch, South Africa. We had started farming organically in 1994 and he was looking for red wine made without sulphur. He described the healing potential of certain vinegars, explaining the intricacies of producing such elixirs – a process taking two to three years, after which various herbs are individually macerated in the vinegar, in separate barrels, for another two to five years. With the 1988 vintage (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc) still in the barrels, we ventured into vinegar production – naturally made to enhance health and food.

We started farming biodynamically in 2001 and I began drinking our vinegar several times per day. I measured my pH (the balance between alkalinity and acidity) up to 10 times daily to ascertain how different emotional, mental and physical states, together with the raw vinegar, affected my body. I learned that naturally-made raw vinegar is an excellent pH balancer and that the macerated herb ingredients are better utilised by the body.

When stressed by exercise, injury or emotional pressure, the body produces more acid. This is illustrated by damage appearing after a burn or muscular stiffness following excessive exercise (a build-up of lactic acid). However, if pH levels are maintained, the body suffers no additional damage beyond the initial injury. Drinking raw vinegar during/immediately after stress helps maintain the body’s optimum pH level, neutralising harmful acidic build-up. When my wife broke three ribs, I gave her a large shot of this vinegar immediately. Healing was accelerated by four-to-six weeks and after a fortnight, she had no pain in the affected area. A body not under stress produces fewer acids (the blood should measure between 7.3 and 7.45 pH when pH is balanced). I have been in the food and wine industry since 1957 and have noticed that circumstances affect the taste experience. Under positive circumstances, where people feel rested/happy (for example, on holiday), their pH is balanced. They may enjoy a particular wine, buy a bottle and store it. Later, when daily stresses exacerbate, the ‘delicious’ wine is sampled and they wonder who changed it! Their bodies’ pH has changed because of accumulated acids which now oppose the acid in the wine and alter the taste.

Naturally-made raw vinegar assists in neutralising excessive acid, never producing it. I was once told “Sour makes happy” – when negative emotions, such as anger, produce acid, one should drink a naturally-made vinegar/lemon juice immediately to restore the body’s pH balance. Read up on pH and the best ways to optimise health. At Rozendal, we make different blends of vinegar using our farm ingredients and carefully sourced local ingredients. We served Rozendal vinegar to our restaurant customers for years, then started bottling and selling it. Rozendal Vinegar tastes good, drinks beautifully and definitely makes people happy.