How to Buy Traditional Balsamic Vinegars from Modena, Italy

Types of Balsamic Vinegar
There are many brands and styles of balsamic vinegar. Some are cheap but the good ones are very expensive and when you understand the work that goes into producing them, you will understand why.
To make Traditional Balsamic vinegar, juice from the white Trebbian grapes (called must) is simmered in copper kettles over wood fires for hours. The water evaporates, intensifying the flavor of the must. This must is then added to a large wooden barrel filled with previously aged balsamic vinegar where it slowly ferments.

Over a period of years, the must is transfered to smaller and smaller barrels which also contain older balsamic vinegar. The younger vinegar is added to the older vinegar which is subject to evaporation and the process goes on and on for at least 12 years until the vinegar is in the smallest barrel which holds 10 liters of vinegar.

Traditional and non Traditional
To be a “Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena” it has to be produced in Modena and follow the process described above and regulated by the Consortium of the Producers of Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena. The vinegar is designated DOC or Denominazione di orgine controllata numbered and sealed with a Seal of Guarantee.

Non-Traditional Balsamic Vinegar is a blend of red wine vinegar and the must from a traditional balsamic vinegar. It may be aged but most times is not. It varies from inexpensive to somewhat expensive depending on the new ranking it receives by the Balsamic Vinegar Consortium (CTAB), and independant goverining body.