What is balsamic vinegar?
Many Italians would say that balsamic vinegar runs through their veins. In fact, it’s such an essential part of both classic and modern Italian cuisine that it’s hard to imagine life without it. And the obsession with this celebrated condiment isn’t just relegated to Italy. In pantries all over the world, you could probably find a bottle of Italian balsamic vinegar if you only look hard enough. Read More
Italian balsamic vinegar comes with its own unique story, which begins with a meticulous, handcrafted process that is held to the highest standards by a special certification agency. Authentic Italian balsamic vinegar always comes labeled as “Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale” and contains the D.O.P. stamp, which guarantees its origin of production. A quintessential flavor of Italian food, the best traditional Italian balsamic vinegar comes from Modena, a city and comune in Emilia-Romagna. Traditional balsamic vinegar starts with grapes, specifically the Lambrusco or Trebbiano varieties, which are handpicked late in the season allowing for high sugar content.
Like many products made in Italy, it’s all about the long game; there are no shortcuts with traditional balsamic vinegar. Once the grapes are harvested, they are processed through a press and transformed into grape must, which contains the skin, seeds, stems, and juice. Then, over a direct flame, it is reduced to about half and left to naturally ferment for up to three weeks. The magical liquid is transferred to wooden barrels, called batteria, where it undergoes an aging process that ranges between 3 and 25 years. The barrels are made from a range of different types of wood, including oak, chestnut, cherry, juniper, and mulberry, which give it a rich complexity of delicate and nuanced flavors.
History of Italian balsamic vinegar
Vinegar has been around for thousands and thousands of years. In 400 B.C., Hippocrates, the father of medicine, used it on his patients for its antibacterial properties. Beyond the cradle of civilization, the first record of balsamic vinegar goes as far back as 1046 when the Holy Roman Emperor Henry III was given a bottle as a gift to celebrate his upcoming coronation.
What does balsamic vinegar taste like?
A bouquet of depth and complexity, Italian balsamic vinegar has a characteristic sweet-tart taste and a velvety texture. With just the right amount of bite, the flavor is perfectly balanced, making it a precious condiment used to enhance many dishes and desserts. During the fermentation process, the balsamic vinegar is transferred to different barrels in order to absorb the range of aromas from specific types of wood. Some varieties have a smoky, savory quality while others have hints of fig, molasses, cherries, or raisins.
What dishes is balsamic vinegar used for?
One of the oldest and most essential ingredients of Modena cuisine, a bottle of Italian balsamic vinegar is a must-have for your dinner table. For a gourmet touch, drizzle it over risotto, traditional veal scaloppini, or grilled meats and seafood as a flavor accent. For best results, we recommend using about a teaspoon just before serving since heating it would destroy the distinctive flavor.
Italian balsamic vinegar can also enhance the flavor of creamy desserts like vanilla gelato or pannacotta. Add a few drops on berries and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese or toss in a salad to play up the mellow flavor of fresh greens. It can also be used in sauces and marinades.
Originating from the word “balm,” which refers to its original use as a health tonic, balsamic vinegar also makes an excellent palate cleanser, aperitif, or digestif, especially on occasions like weddings or other gatherings.
Where to buy Italian balsamic vinegar online
At Supermarket Italy, we feature a variety of the best Italian balsamic vinegar, including classic brands such as Due Vittorie, Roland Diamond, and Academia Barilla. You’ll also find top quality bottles like Manicardi Balsamic Vinegar Gold, which has been aged for a minimum of 25 years. Shop for Italian balsamic vinegar today and enjoy the extraordinary flavors of Old World cuisine.