|My 7-year aged balsamic vinegar from a dear friend|
Balsamic vinegar is strictly not a wine vinegar. It is produced in the Modena region of Italy from reduced wine juice aged in wooden casks. Highly valued by chefs and gourmet food lovers, it gives off a smooth sweet-sour flavour and is perfect as a salad dressing, or poured over grilled meat, or paired with a good extra virgin olive oil peppered with good quality sea salt flakes as a dip for crusty breads.
There are 3 different grades of balsamic vinegar.
1. Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena. This label is protected under the European Union and is exclusively used only for those produced in Modena and aged for a minimum of 12 years.
2. Condimento grade - there is some aging involved in this grade. My photo above is such an example, a gift from a dear friend who toured Napa Valley and thought of me. This bottle is aged 7 years. I love how it's suspended inside the bottle too.
3. Commercial grade - zillions of gallons are produced in this commercial grade where no aging is involved. In fact, there are colourings and thickeners used in this low grade that is produced on a mass scale. My personal recommendation is not to put your money on this category.
Be an informed consumer and look out for these labels when you next shop for a balsamic vinegar. Without the word "Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale", you know it's not aged for a minimum of 12 years.