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Like many of you, we were curious as why one can find balsamic vinegar for $6 at the grocery store or a hefty $300 in specialty stores. Price discrepancies this wide usually indicate real differences in product. Our investigation proved that this is indeed the case. Many poorly-made (indeed fake) balsamic vinegars on our American grocery shelves are loaded with caramel and xanthem – bottles of deceit, which we would never sell.
We have partnered with an olive grower that has visited Modena, Italy, home of what is widely considered the best aged balsamic vinegar in the world, to better understand the process of crafting their fine Modena balsamic vinegar.
Though the process of making aged balsamic vinegar is complicated, it is simple as well. It does not involve additives, or spices, or flavoring. Unlike ordinary vinegar that has its origins in alcoholic liquid, true balsamic vinegar is produced directly from grape juice. Late harvest, white and sugary grapes, such as Trebbiano, are used. Their liquid, called “must,” is boiled in an open vat and cannot be allowed to ferment. After a series of boiling down and filtering the must, it’s then cooled and poured into wooden casks. The wooden casks are made from oak, cherry, ash, chestnut, mulberry, or juniper trees and all are former wine casks, which will impart flavor components into the balsamic vinegar. Over time, a series of decanting and topping off is completed.
Unfortunately, there are no labeling requirements in the United States for balsamic vinegars. So you should consider why you’re buying it: if it’s for making quarts of salad dressing or creating a balsamic glaze, you don’t need an expensive balsamic vinegar. Inquire about additives used in the crafting of the balsamic vinegar. Generally, if additives are used, the quality is lower. If the bottle says, “aged”, find out what that really means.
We also offer a variety of flavored balsamic vinegars – they are cask aged and some contain real fruit, while others are combined with natural flavors. One thing they all have in common: No artificial flavorings, thickening agents, caramel nor additives have been added. And they are delicious!
We encourage you to sample our various offerings to determine which ones best fit your desired flavor and price profiles.