Talking about Italian balsamic vinegar is like entering a labyrinth and wanting to get out of it in a few seconds.
Even Italians are very confused about this strange product, so much loved but so little known in its distinctive features compared to other “vinegar”.
I would like to make some order and then let’s start with what you can see on the shelves of a store that sells this product.
The initial difference is the dark color and a higher price than the other “vinegar”.
But why is this product darker and has a higher price, sometimes even very high?
But is such a different price multiple justified?
Let’s try to unravel the skein.
The territory of production of balsamic vinegar is that linked to the provinces of Modena and Reggio Emilia, and only the two of them historically, that is, since the Middle Ages and since the first written traces of this product, produced it and produce it with traditional methods, jealously preserving the techniques.
The definition of “balsamic”, to distinguish this particular product from the other vinegars that were processed, is found in a document of 1747 that is contained in the registers of the cellars of the ducal palace of Modena.
There are two “Italian balsamic vinegar”:
– Traditional balsamic vinegar;
– Balsamic vinegar of Modena.
The “traditional balsamic vinegar” is produced through cooking and concentration by reduction of the must of local grapes (Lambrusco and Trebbiano); after being fermented it is stored in oak, cherry, mulberry or juniper barrels, for at least 12 years and up to 25 years and more. The different types of wood in the barrels give it a characteristic and different aroma.
An example of this type of balsamic vinegar can be found here: Vinegar San Giacomo
The “non-traditional” balsamic vinegar, precisely balsamic vinegar of Modena, is obtained by combining grape musts (fermented and / or cooked and / or concentrated) and wine vinegar, plus a possible addition of dye (usually caramel) to stabilize the color. The taste is different, more sour and strong from a sensory point, and is more like a wine vinegar; a very short aging is required, from two months to three years, and it is an industrial process that allows to obtain a greater production
An example of this type of balsamic vinegar can be found here: Vinegar Modena