It’s All in the Label
Small differences in the wording on the labels of balsamic vinegar can mean big differences between what is inside the bottle. There are three main grades of balsamic vinegar traditional balsamic vinegar, commercial grade balsamic vinegar, and condiment grade balsamic vinegar. Several varieties may be available within each grade.
Traditional Balsamic Vinegar
Traditional balsamic vinegar may be labeled as “Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia” or “Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena.” Vinegar labeled with these names must be produced in either the regions of Modena or Reggio Emilia, Italy. The process by which these traditional vinegars are made takes years and produces an incredibly thick, glossy, flavorful product. Only Trebbiano or Lambrusco grapes are used to make this type of balsamic vinegar. The juice from these grapes is aged in wooden barrels for 12 to 18 years to develop its unique flavor. Traditional balsamic vinegar is the highest grade available and carry the largest price tag.
Commercial-Grade Balsamic Vinegar
Commercial grade balsamic vinegars are mass produced and aged for a minimum amount of time, if at all. These vinegars are made from wine vinegar and often have caramel coloring, thickeners, and flavor added. Commercial grade balsamic vinegar may be labeled simply as “Balsamic Vinegar of Modena” if they are, in fact, produced in that region. Domestic vinegar made in the United States or in other regions can not carry the Modena name.
The origin of vinegar date back to the ancient Romans. In Modena there have always been different types of vinegar obtained from grape must enriched successively with different flavors derived from different recipes, different preparation, and aging methods. The term “balsamic” on the other hand, has been used for the first time in 1747 in some of the inventories of the canteens of the Ducal Palace of Modena, probably the name is born from the even therapeutic use of this product which was said to be “a balsamic effect and refreshing. ”In the nineteenth century, “acetaia” or wineries where vinegar from the province of Modena was made and aged became increasingly numerous and during the postwar period, the economic boom leads some producers to market this seasoning with the name of “balsamic vinegar” to make it known abroad thanks to important exhibition events.
The grapes are harvested in the same region in which this balsamic vinegar is produced, crushed and its liquid must be boiled in an open vat over a fire. This liquid is then placed in high-quality wooden barrels in which through an oxidation process is transformed into vinegar. The barrels are kept in a vinegar loft “acataia” where inside is lovingly cared for through a special technique involving transfers and topping up. Over many years micro biotic and enzymatic modifications unite to achieve an exceptional balance in flagrance and flavor.
Suggestion: There is no real rule on how you should or should not use this fine aged balsamic vinegar. Just a small amount of it will reveal the best taste, not to mention it has always been used by the best culinary traditional chefs.
Packaging: Glass Bottle – Includes fancy box, information booklet, cork top lid for pouring and storage.
Size – 100 ml
Aging: 12 years
Product of Modena, Italy