All About Balsamic

I wrote about Pasta, and Olive Oil (EVO), what about Balsamic Vinegar?

Not an Ordinary Vinegar

Balsamic Vinegar is not an ordinary vinegar, it is another niche product Made in Italy that gained lots of fame abroad. Balsamic vinegar is a condiment that is suitable for many preparations. It goes well with every course from appetizer to dessert.

We know that the best is the one from Modena. But considering the relatively high cost (fortunately it is used sparingly), it is worth to see how that money is spent.

When Balsamic is Called Balsamic

The term “balsamic vinegar” is commonly used to give a generic indication of certain condiments and bitter-sweet vinegars produced in the provinces of Modena and Reggio Emilia.

The definition of indications of origin by the European Union, which is now distinguished by two types of product, are:

Traditional balsamic vinegar, obtained from the long ageing of grape must; it is protected with the Protected Designation of Origin (DOP), in two versions:

  1. Traditional balsamic Modena DOP (ABTM)
  2. Vinegar balsamic of Reggio Emilia DOP (ABTRE)

Balsamic vinegar of Modena IGP (ABM), the most widespread product, in which the composition appears to be other ingredients and which does not require long ageing.

Protected Designation of Origin

DOP Production begins with reduction and concentration the grape must (Must is the freshly crushed grapes juice that contains the skins, seeds, and stems of the fruit), predominantly the Lambrusco and Trebbiano wineyard.  The cooked must is then fermented, acetyfied and aged in wood barrels for a minimum period of 12 years, during which the product is concentrated further in a natural way. 

Differences between DOP and IGP


  • Cooked must of grape, harvested in the provinces of Modena and Reggio Emilia by certified growers
  • Alcoholic fermentation of sugars, acetic oxidation, period of aging within a series of wooden containers, precedes the reinforcement of the same during the years, annual withdrawal and bottling. The whole procedure is generally managed on small productions
  • The residence time of the product inside the barrels battery is regulated by the procedure of withdrawals and reinforcements. The minimum aging time is not less than 12 years
  • The product is sealed inside 100 ml patented glass bottles
  • Cost 38 – 239 Euro


  • Concentrated and sulphited grape musts, wine and caramel vinegar (max 2% vol.). The type of grapes that can be used is set by law, but the vines can also grow outside the provinces of Modena and Reggio
  • Mix of raw materials, optional maturation in single barrels, bottling. The whole procedure is generally managed on an industrial scale
  • Minimum aging is not less than 60 days, 3 years for the word “aged”
  • The product is sealed inside various types of glass bottles (minimum 250 ml capacity) or single-dose plastic (25 ml maximum)
  • 2 – 65 Euro

The increasing marketing of “balsamic products“, not only in Italy, has led to a wide use in the kitchen on numerous recipes. Usually the most used are the Modena balsamic IGP and condiments, for reasons related to the cost of the product. The traditional balsamic vinegar is generally used in the most sophisticated preparations, where a more complex acidity is preferred than that of wine vinegar.

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I lived the most part of my life in Washington DC, now in Italy getting to know again my country. Plenty of surprises, for good and bad, and lots of nostalgia for DC.

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