Turns out, centuries of Japanese tradition had something to contribute to the conversation

Sometimes we get pulled back to earth.

We have been refining a method for converting grains into vinegar for a few years now.  It's informed a little by the miso-making process, has some notes cribbed from beer brewing, and then sloshes into our regular routine for finishing and aging all of our vinegars.  It's either a synthesis or a corruption of traditions, depending on where you stand. I will say that it does a good job pulling the character of rye or toasted barley through a long fermentation.

It was around our fourth or fifth time ruining expensive Carolina Gold rice that we decided that our method simply did not work for rice.  We were surely making vinegar, but losing all of the flavor of the grain.

Sarah decided to follow the technical instructions for the production of sake, following them strictly enough that we purchased the special strains of yeast, rather than using our usual collection of raw natives.  

The resulting rice wine vinegars, first of Carolina Gold and then from some freshly polished Koshihikari from Blue Moon Acres, are exceptionally aromatic, sweet-smelling, wistful and elusive. We found what we'd been missing.  Addition by subtraction of arrogance. In its place, pride can grow.