Balsamic Vinegar is great because it's usually the exact opposite of extra virgin olive oil. It stands up and says "Hey—look at me! Look how great I am!" But vinegar is patient too—often aging in wooden barrels for decades until one day it boldly appears, making a huge impact on your palate and your meal. We can honestly say there is nothing like the wondrous, sweet flavor of aged Balsamic Vinegar.
Looking to buy balsamic vinegar but not sure what to choose? Our offerings are spectacular and you cannot go wrong with any of them. We also carry organic balsamic vinegar.
Italians refer to real balsamic vinegar as tradizionale in contrast to industriale or artigianale which you will find on supermarket shelves. Don't be fooled by stuff on the supermarket shelves….it's probably not the real thing. Real balsamic is never ever cheap. It is always expensive. Why?
Real balsamic vinegar is not a wine vinegar at all. It comes from grape must (juice). Briefly, here's the process: Farmers grow the grapes (like Trebbiano and Lambrusco, to name a few), leaving them on the vine until the last possible moment to ensure great sweetness; then they press them and cook them down to a thick syrup; then the whole concoction is aged for more than twelve years in real wooden barrels made of oak, cherry, juniper and the like. The fermentation and aging is done, unlike with wine, open to the air to achieve even more concentration of flavors, and combined with the blending of older and younger vinegars in the process results in a perfectly balanced marriage of mellow, fruity-sweet vinegar and deep woodsy and spicy notes from the barrels.
So we're talking a pretty sizable process and years of no return on investment for the artisan balsamic maker. Makes sense that a 250ml bottle of the real stuff could cost upwards of one hundred dollars or more. Very expensive, to be sure, but also amazing.
So that's real balsamic—but what's a balsamic condiment? Condiments are close cousins but not quite the real thing. Through the careful process of fermentation, blending and aging (though usually less than twelve years), they can achieve a rich sweet flavor that comes very close to the real thing. Villa Mandori comes to mind.
The cheapo stuff that you might find on a supermarket shelf, while perfectly fine for cooking or everyday salads is made only partly from grape must and unaged wine vinegar. And the brown color is usually from caramel not from the natural aging process in wooden barrels. The whole thing is aged about as long as it takes to get a boat from Italy to the U.S. You can really taste the difference.
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