The “original” Balsamic vinegar is an Italian product famous all over the world. In recent years there are more and more imitations on the market and the purpose of this article is to give 5 practical tips to recognize authentic Balsamic Vinegar from its imitations.
To recognize original balsamic vinegar we need to know what is meant by the term “Balsamic Vinegar”. To define itself as such, means a specific type of product divided, in turn, into 3 different types:
– DOP of Modena,
– DOP of Reggio Emilia,
– IGP of Modena.
Recognizing the Tradizionale Balsamic Vinegar DOP of Modena and the DOP of Reggio Emilia is very simple, thanks to the strict regulations that certify the quality of the product and oblige producers to use a specific bottle marked with the labels of its consortium.
Specifically, talking about the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar DOP of Modena (internal link), it is good to make sure that the bottle is made of crystalline glass and in the 100ml format (more rarely you can find it in 200ml or 400ml), instead for the DOP of Reggio Emilia (internal link) the accepted formats are: 100ml, 250ml, 50ml.
Both products must have the shape you see in the picture, otherwise they are not to be considered Traditional Balsamic Vinegar DOP. Once it has been verified that these characteristics are respected, the quality is guaranteed and certified.
The imitations found on the market mainly concern the IPG of Modena, and they can be recognized through these 5 simple practices:
Read the name of the product
The bottle must bear the words “aceto balsamico di Modena” accompanied by the words IPG or Indicazione Geografica Protetta. Qualifying adjectives such as “extra”, “fine”, “scelto”, “selezionato”, “riserva”, “superiore”, “classico” cannot be used, in all these cases it is not an authentic product.
The only term allowed is the adjective ‘aged’.
Identify the consortium label
In addition to the IPG symbol, the label must necessarily bear the typical yellow and blue circular stamp. This guarantees its certification by the consortium of origin.
Read the place of production and bottling
Although Balsamic Vinegar can be sold by companies not belonging to the provinces of Modena and Reggio Emilia, the label must bear the words: produced and bottled in the province of Modena and Reggio Emilia.
This wording guarantees a short production chain and certified quality.
To make sure you buy an original IPG Balsamic Vinegar, make sure there are no sugars or thickeners.
The most natural balsamic products contain only two ingredients, Mosto Cotto (cooked must) and wine vinegar, you can still find on the back of the label the substance E150d (caramel) in a quantity not exceeding 2% of the finished product.
This substance, in the cheapest products, helps to achieve a better density and a dark brown color. In the most valuable products this substance is absent because these characteristics of density and color are achieved through natural ageing processes.
Control the format
The last factor, but not in order of importance, to be considered to verify the authenticity of the Balsamic Vinegar of Modena IPG is the format.
The production regulations only allow formats of 250 ml, 500 ml, 750 ml, 1 lt, 2 lt, 3 lt, 5 lt.
Formats other than these are not to be considered IPG certified products.
Thanks to the characteristics analyzed you will always know how to recognize authentic Balsamic Vinegar, avoid imitations and recognize the various classifications. Such as, for example, the difference between Balsamic Vinegar and balsamic glaze.
This is just the starting point to make sure you avoid buying imitations to ensure that you enjoy the taste of an original product.
There are many facets to original Balsamic Vinegar, however, and the many details that determine its features, such as the production and ageing phases, that lead to different end results.