What is Balsamic Vinegar? It is certainly a very popular product, but few people are really informed about it. Can you recognize a real Traditional Balsamic Vinegar? In this article we will see everything there is to know about it.
In answering the question what is Balsamic Vinegar, it is imperative to start by praising Traditional Balsamic Vinegar DOP, which is one of the many highlights of our kitchen, a product extremely loved and exported not only in Italy, but also all over the world. In fact, it is not rare to find Balsamic Vinegar abroad, but sometimes, unfortunately, even in our country, by-products are sold that do not really respect tradition, but are traded by many consumers for the inimitable Emilian condiment.
Balsamic Vinegar, in fact, is a product of great value, with centuries of tradition behind it and consortia able to ensure its quality.
So let’s see what is really Traditional Balsamic Vinegar DOP, one of the many culinary products coming from what many critics believe to be the best cuisine in the world, the Emilian one.
The History of Balsamic Vinegar
As we said at the beginning, Balsamic Vinegar is a product that can boast a very long history.
The first evidence of cooking must, that is the basis for the production of Balsamic Vinegar, dates back even to Ancient Egypt, about 1000 BC.
In Italy the first text that testifies the production of vinegar in Modena, can be found in the Georgics of Virgil: in the first century BC.
Already in the Middle Ages Balsamic Vinegar, or at least its ancestor, began to make its way among the tastes of the nobles of Italy and not only, as evidenced by the events concerning the village of Canossa, a locality now belonging to the province of Reggio Emilia, place where emissaries from various courts went to bring home a certain vinegar with an inimitable flavor.
Everything changed during the Renaissance: Modena became the capital of the Este Duchy and led a culinary revolution that involved the whole of Europe, bringing many traditional products to the forefront, including Balsamic Vinegar.
In modern times, the consecration of Balsamic Vinegar in the Pantheon of top quality culinary products is a fact, especially in light of the recognition by major international bodies of two products with Protected Designation of Origin, namely Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena DOP and Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Reggio Emilia DOP, as well as another product that can boast the Protected Geographical Indication mark, namely Balsamic Vinegar of Modena IGP.
How to make and what is Balsamic Vinegar in production
Obviously not all vinegars are Balsamic Vinegars, and not all Balsamic Vinegars are Traditional DOP.
The first thing is to understand the type and how to make Balsamic Vinegar concerning the raw materials.
Grapes are the only allowed raw material and must only come from selected vineyards registered with the DOC of the provinces of Modena and Reggio Emilia, taking care that the sugar/acid ratio Arriving then to the production process, we can see that there are some very precise operations to be carried out in wooden barrels carefully selected by the reference consortia, until then arriving at the aging process, which must have a minimum duration of twelve years, but can go up to more than twenty-four years, mandatory time to be able to define the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar DOP extra-low, or an even more valuable and unique product.
This little information is enough to understand the great cultural value of Traditional Balsamic Vinegar DOP, which is inextricably linked to the territory of Emilia, whose climate creates the perfect conditions to have a product of the highest quality.
Alongside this top quality product there is also the more common Balsamic Vinegar of Modena IGP, another excellent product, but whose production must be subject to much less stringent rules.
In any case, if you are interested in learning more about the rules that a vinegarmaker must follow in the production of Balsamic Vinegar, the advice is to read directly the specifications of the three official consortia, whose task is to protect and promote the tradition of real Balsamic Vinegar.
Types of Balsamic Vinegar
What has been said so far may have been a bit confusing for the less experienced. In this paragraph we will therefore try to sum up and clearly distinguish the three internationally recognized types of Balsamic Vinegar.
Let’s start by saying that currently there are mainly two types of Balsamic Vinegar: Balsamic Vinegar of Modena IGP and Traditional Balsamic Vinegar DOP.
The vinegar protected by the IGP trademark is the most widespread, but also the one with a lower quality. For example, the selection of ingredients is less regulated and does not require a very long aging process.
Traditional Balsamic Vinegar, instead, protected by the Protected Designation of Origin (DOP), is distinguished in Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena DOP and Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Reggio Emilia DOP. The latter types ensure a higher quality thanks to a more careful selection of raw materials and longer aging, distinguishing each other by the origin of the grapes, bottling, physical and chemical characteristics, as well as some notes of flavor.
Balsamic Vinegar on your table: how to use it in the kitchen
And from the practical point of view of the common person?
Well, even the less experienced cook can learn to use Balsamic Vinegar to give a new flavor and new scents to the dishes they brings to the table every day.
Generally, Balsamic Vinegar is used to season meat, vegetables and sometimes even fruit.
The ways in which this product can enrich dishes are many, for this reason we have created a special recipe book to analyze them in the best way.
At this point we can safely say that Balsamic Vinegar is without a shadow of a doubt a product of great cultural value, inextricably linked to the Emilian land and the Italian culinary tradition. With its flavor, its characteristic color and its odors is able to give a new face to many dishes, embellishing any table.
As we have had the opportunity to analyze in this article, not all Balsamic Vinegars are therefore the same. For this reason we invite you to discover all the flavors of this incredible product: visit our shop to find the Balsamic Vinegar that best suits your tastes.