Let’s look at a word I stumbled across yesterday, vignette. We will return to the mother sauces shortly. Vignette sounds a lot like vinaigrette, and I wondered, “Could there be a connection between a literary sketch and a salad dressing?” So, I did some research.
Originally, vignette was a decorative design, a fancy twirling tendril of a grapevine. Commonly, it would adorn the border of a picture in a book. Later vignette was used to describe the picture itself, particularly pictures with blurred edges. Now vignette has become a metaphor. It describes a short work of writing that, like a picture, captures a snapshot of time.
Vinaigrette is the diminutive form of vinaigre, vinegar in French. The diminutive endings in French are –et / –ette so a small book is a livret and little Anne becomes Annette. This is similar to the –ito and –ita endings in Spanish. Vinaigre literally means aigre – sour, vin– wine. So, yes, the answer is that vignette and vinaigrette are both diminutive forms of wine words. How French of them.