About Balsamic Vinegar of Modena
TRADITIONAL BALSAMIC VINEGAR OF MODENA is made from cooked grape must, matured by a long and slow process, through natural fermentation, followed by progressive concentration by aging in a series of casks made from different types of wood and without the addition of any other spices or flavorings. (Our products go through 7 different types of wooden barrels over 18 years.) After aging the Balsamic is combined with a high quality wine vinegar creating a commercial balsamic vinegar.
COLOR: dark brown but full of warm light.
DENSITY: a fluid and syrup-like consistency.
FLAVOR: The perfect proportion of sweet and sour. It will offer your taste buds a full and rich flavor with a variety of shadings.
- The word vinegar comes from the French "vin aigre", which means "sour wine". The Italian word for vinegar is "aceto", which is the name of the bacteria (enzymes) that creates the vinegar. Vinegar has existed for thousands of years and in all cultures, from wine vinegars, malt vinegars, cider vinegars, rice vinegars, etc. In countries, such as Italy, where the consumption of wine is widespread, wine vinegars are used extensively.
- Vinegar is caused by the action of oxygen and acetobacters (enzymes), which digest the alcohol in the wine, thus turning it into vinegar. This method is called the "Orleans" method. It is a rather slow process, but retains the flavors of the original material used for converting it into vinegar.
- Balsamic vinegar is made from a different process than wine vinegar. Balsamic vinegar comes from Modena, in the region of Reggio Emilia, Italy, and is made with Trebbiano grapes. These grapes are left on the vines until the very end of autumn, so they can soak up the last rays of the autumn sun. The grapes are crushed and the must, which is not allowed to ferment, is filtered, then boiled, reducing the liquid from 30 to 70%, depending on the vintage, the sugar level, and the expertise of the vinegar maker. Once the must is reduced it is filtered again, and poured into wooden casks, after cooling.
- Topping up creates the distinctive flavors and consistency of balsamic vinegar. Topping up, or decanting, is done when the must is transferred from one wooden cask to another in decreasing size progression. The casks are made from oak, cherry, chestnut, ash, and mulberry. Selection of woods and the order in which they are used will depend on family tradition and on the Balsamic maker. This series of wooden casks is called "the Batteria". The "Batteria" is kept in the attic, not in the cellar, and it is the combination of the must, the special woods, the climate - hot in the summer, cold in the winter - and time, which transforms the must into Balsamic Vinegar of Modena.
- Traditional Balsamic vinegar is aged in the "Batteria" at least 12 years. The licensing of the traditional balsamic vinegar is controlled by the Consortium of Producers of the Traditional Balsamic Vinegars of Modena. The Italian government has bestowed its DOC, or, Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) in recognition of balsamic vinegar of a certain quality. In compliance with rigorous quality standards, the Consorzio places its Seal of Guarantee on each numbered bottle.
- The commercial type balsamic vinegar which you see on the supermarket shelves is made from a wine vinegar into which aged balsamic vinegar must has been added. The addition and amount of must added to the red wine vinegar determines the quality of the commercial type balsamic vinegar.
- balsamic vinegars range from the "commercial" type generally sold on the supermarkets' shelves, to the traditional balsamic vinegars.
- The "Star" system to distinguish the different qualities of commercial balsamic vinegars that are produced, since there are differing qualities found on the shelves of the supermarkets. The most common star rating for balsamic is a level 3 a higher quality is often given a level 6 and the best commercial balsamic available is a 25 Star, which is what you will find on this website.
- All of our Balsamic products have been prepared in the traditional manor aging a minimum of 18 years through various wooden casks The addition of natural flavors is done after the ageing process and can take severl months to several years for the final product.