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More About Balsamic Vinegar Click Below:

The Best and the Rarest:

Aceto Tradizionale Balsamico Vinegar di Modena D.O.P  is made in Modena using artisan methods established in the Renaissance period dating back to the middle ages. To be assured its truly Tradizionale Balsamico, look for the following: It must have an Italian Government Designation of D.O.P (Denominazione di Origine Protetta), which means "Protected Designation of Origin". Everything from the variety of the grapes used, aging time to the variation of wood barrels adheres to exact standards. Authentic Balsamic Vinegar must be aged for a minimum of 12 years. The Lengthier it ages, the more rich and concentrated it becomes. The only type of grape used is Trebbiano grapes which are grown only in the Reggio Emilia region of Modena.  The only ingredient is cooked Grape must. Only about 3,000 gallons are produced each year and carefully tracked by the Consortium. With its rich flavor a perfect balance between sweet and tart, there is acidity with no acidic taste. The color is brown-black and when the bottle is tipped the vinegar leaves a slick on the side of the glass. Once again to be certain you are purchasing a authentic Tradizionale Balsamico look for the D.O.P stamp and the onion-shaped 100ml bottle mandated by the Consortium. Tradizionale aged for at least 12 years is called "Affinato" (refined) and 25 year aged is "ExtraVecchio" (extra old).

The Second Best:

Condimento - Balsamic Vinegar of Modena I.G.P (protected geographic indication) Matured.

This fine balsamics are made by almost identical traditional methods but are lacking one variable to be Tradizionale Balsamics, the 12 to 25 year aging process and using the  five prescribed woods (barrels). The Condimento must be aged for at least 60 days in wood barrel and to be called "Invecchiato" or "Aged" have to be matured for at least 3 years in a minimum of three woods (barrels). These Condimento Balsamics consists of cooked must and wine vinegar. The Condimento that have been aged for the minimum 60 days, usually don't have the right brown/black color and sweet flavor, therefore most producers will add caramel coloring (not the case with Rossi Barattini Condimento Balsamico). The 1 and 3 year aged Condimento Balsamico have the same characteristic brown-black color as a Tradizionale and a nice harmony between sweet and sour, with a nice syrupy consistency. Unlike the mandated bottle type and size for theTradizionales, these Balsamics come in a variety of bottle shapes with a minimum bottle size of 250ml size and the only mention of aging on the label which is accepted by the I.G.P is 3 years (Vecchio), no other identification is allowed, like Riserva, Oro (Gold), Argento (Silver) or any other adjective. At about half the price of the Tradizionale, these balsamics are excellent alternative to the more expensive Tradizionale.

Should not even be called Balsamic

Factory "Industriale" Balsamic-

Commercial Balsamic vinegars from the Region are quick-process, either the grape must is caramelized (cooked until it changes color) or caramelized sugar is added. Then it is aged in large vats with wood chips for flavor. Industrials are generally a blend of cooked grape must and red wine vinegar and are labeled "Aceto Balsamico di Modena"(you will never see the word "Industriale). This is "imitation tradizionale". According to the I.G.P for Balsamic to be labeled as authentic Balsamic, it must be aged for at least 3 years, but with these Industriale Balsamics there is no guarantee that they are aged in wood. Some can have caramel coloring added to make them look like real balsamic, some add thickening agents to give it density, again to give the appearance of the real thing. Usually there is no aging involved, thousands of gallons can be produced every day. To further create the illusion, they'll have a red wax seal and claim to be aged (some are labeled Superior Condimento aged for 6 years"). These can cost anywhere from $10.00 to $30.00 and for that price you may think you're getting a bargain, but you're getting a false representation of the real thing.

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And then there's

Imitation Balsamic

This includes much of what is found on supermarkets shelves in the USA, they are usually labeled as Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, which a vast majority of them are not, but here in the States there is no governing body, so the producers can get away with. They are generally cider vinegar with caramel coloring and flavoring added to look like balsamic. The largest sales are in imitation Balsamics. Although they serve a purpose, they are not even close to a real Balsamic in taste and experience. Most are vinegar and sugar, with caramel coloring, with no mention of grape must.

Types of Balsamic Vinegar: