Shopping for balsamic vinegar one is complicated. The price point is probably the single most important factor influencing the purchasing decision.
It is difficult to determine which balsamic vinegar is “right” for you. As such, our FAQ hopefully answers many of the frequently asked questions about purchasing balsamic vinegar. Link to it now, or download the pdf on balsamic vinegar. Perhaps, you may wish to watch a short video:
Traditional or “DOP” Balsamic Vinegar
It is rare to see a bottle of AUTHENTIC “DOP” or traditional balsamic vinegar sold in a grocery store or gourmet food boutique. If you see a bottle of balsamic that claims to be “traditional” or “tradizionale“, your fraud alert antenna should go up.
- First, authentic DOP or Traditional balsamic vinegar is sold only in distinctive 100 ml bottles. This vinegar is tested, sealed and bottled by the Italian consortium.
- Second, the Italian Growers Association recognizes only three distinct ages for DOP: 12 years for “affinato,” 18 years (only Emilia Romagna) and 25 years for “extravecchio.”
- Third, a 100 ml bottle of authentic DOP balsamic vinegar can cost anywhere from between $85 to $200 a bottle. Beware of claims for 50 or 80-year old balsamic vinegar.
- Fourth, authentic traditional balsamic consists only of “mosto cotto” or wine must. There is no wine vinegar or additives or preservatives.
Making of Traditional Balsamic Vinegar
As most people know, Trebbiano grapes are reduced by heat shortly after harvesting. The wine concentrate is then stored in wooden barrels.
Barrel-aged wine must is diluted with wine vinegar to produce commercial-grade balsamic vinegar commonly found in grocery stores. Sadly, producers have resorted to additives to “enhance” the price rather than the quality of the vinegar.
Even vinegars that have an IGP seal need only wine must that has been aged for ONLY 60 days.
Traditional balsamic vinegar is aged in a series of barrels called a “battery.” Each barrel is exposed to the elements through a small opening at the top of the barrel. As such, natural evaporation occurs causing the wine must to become more concentrated.
Each year – generally in February – the artisans in Modena top up the next smaller barrel in the battery. This process replaces the wine must that has been lost through evaporation. This
Given the lengthy aging process, it is not surprising that authentic DOP balsamic is so expensive. Found below is a relative price comparison between Gourmet Living’s 250 ml premium grade Goccia d’Oro balsamic vinegar and our 100 ml 12-year
Balsamic vinegar is a game-changing ingredient in gourmet cooking. While we only use Goccia d’Oro on roasted vegetables and meats and to flavor salads, we will often bring use traditional balsamic