The Art of Making Balsamic Vinegar
Mandarano Balsamic Glaze & Sauce uses as its base a four-hundred year old Modenese family recipe.
Only in the Emilia-Romania region of Italy and specifically the area in and around Modena can this coveted vinegar be found. More amazing is how its unique process and family tradition has been handed down from generation to generation since the 11th century.
Every phase of the process is carefully monitored in order to preserve its heritage; the family's grapes are carefully nurtured and grown without pesticides. These high standards, combined with the quality of the vinegar, result in an excellent tasting Balsamic Glaze & Sauce.
Like wine making, the production of Balsamic vinegar is an art form. It is made from combining mainly Trebbiano and Lambrusco grapes found in the rich soil around Modena. The ripest, sweetest grapes are picked late in the season and pressed. The grapes are cooked very slowly until the water content is reduced and the resulting "must" is placed into barrels. An older Balsamic vinegar is added to assist in the acetification (the process of converting, or of becoming converted, into vinegar). Each year the vinegar is transferred to different barrels so that the vinegar can obtain some of the flavors of the different woods.
As the fermentation process continues, the vinegar evaporates and thickens. The vinegar matures through cold winters and hot summers and in the process develops and refines its unique flavor and scent.
GRADES & CATEGORIES
Balsamic vinegar is divided into several categories determined by age and quality (the art form previously mentioned). But before we get into the different grades and categories, first let me say that the $4.00 to $7.00 bottle of "Balsamic" sold at your local supermarket tastes nothing at all like the real Authentic-aged Balsamic you're about to experience.
Commercial grade. Mentioned above - which is usually not aged at all.
Artisan Grade. Produced in a thriving cottage industry based in and around Modena, these Balsamic vinegars are of excellent value in both price and taste and range in age from 3 to 5 years at a typical price of $12.00 to $20.00.
Artisan Grade II. A second level of higher quality is offered by a few quality producers with ages of up to 6 to 15 years. These higher grades of Balsamic have a price range of $25 to $50 per bottle.
Traditional Balsamic of Modena. Lastly we have the highly prized Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena, a registered trademark of the official Modena Consortium of Balsamic Vinegar producers who operate under strict regulations and controls to guarantee the highest level of quality. Traditional must be aged at least 12 years (average price for 3.38 oz is $80) and Traditional Extra Vecchio can only be called so after ageing a minimum of 25 years (average price for 3.38 oz is $180). You will know it is the official Traditional Balsamic because it only comes in a unique and specially designed bottle. This bottle was designed in 1987 by Giorgetto Giugiaro founder of Italdesign.
Ultimately, it is the taste, not the age, that determines the quality of a vinegar.