Balsamic Vinegar 101: Everything You Need to Know Before Buying a Bottle

Introduction

The Origin of Balsamic Vinegar

How Is Balsamic Vinegar Made?

Introduction

Known for its deep brown color and potential health benefits, balsamic vinegar is used for a variety of recipes. It originated in Italy, but it is now used all over the world. After all, it has a unique and strong flavor that is perfect for making a wide range of dishes.

If you are looking for a store that offers balsamic vinegar for sale in New York, USA, feel free to get in touch with us at Fresh Fin Gourmet. We are a specialty store that offers different goods, including seafood, meat, and condiments. Get in touch with our team today to place an order on our balsamic vinegar products.

The Origin of Balsamic Vinegar 

In a nutshell, balsamic vinegar did not come from any humble origin. Its origins can actually be traced back to the 11th century in Emilia-Romagna, one of the wealthiest regions in Italy. Back then, wealthy families are the only ones who could afford wooden barrels and have enough space at home to store and make refined grape juice.

How Did It Become Popular? 

In the early Middle Ages, balsamic vinegar gained popularity for two main reasons. The first one is it became a status symbol because the ruling classes and other wealthy folks drank it as a refined beverage. It even came to a point where bottles of well-aged balsamic vinegar were used as a dowry. Some families would start aging the liquid when a baby is born and then use it as a gift when their child finally marries.

The other reason balsamic vinegar gained prominence is the fact that it was used as a remedy for certain diseases. Vinegar has natural antibacterial properties, so it was used to treat various infections. At some point, balsamic vinegar was even marketed as an effective way to combat the plague of the Middle Ages.

What Is the Reason Behind Its Name? 

Although balsamic vinegar has been used since the 11th century, its name only became widely known in the late 18th century. The term “balsamic vinegar” is a direct translation of the Italian “aceto balsamico.”

Both the English “balsamic” and Italian “balsamico” originated from the Latin word “balsamum,” which refers to substances with an aromatic odor and soothing or healing properties. This name is apt because balsamic vinegar was used to treat certain illnesses back then.

When Did It Become Popular Among the Common Folk? 

Balsamic vinegar remained to be a status symbol for hundreds of years, and it was not only until the 1970s to 1980s did it become popular among the masses. During this time, chefs discovered that it has a strong flavor, which can be used to make better-tasting dishes. The demand for balsamic vinegar increased, prompting businesses to think of ways to capitalize on it and make its manufacturing process faster.

Today, this condiment is used by both professional chefs in restaurants and individual cooks at home. Its strong taste is enjoyed by many people worldwide. If you are looking for balsamic vinegar for sale in New York, USA, do not hesitate to call us at Fresh Fin Gourmet. Our specialty store provides you with various food products, such as seafood, meat, and condiments.

How Is Balsamic Vinegar Made? 

There are two ways to make balsamic vinegar: traditional and modern. Here is how they differ from each other:

Traditional Balsamic Vinegar 

Traditionally made balsamic vinegar is prized and often marketed as “authentic.” After all, the process of making it virtually never changed for hundreds of years since the Middle Ages. Today, traditional balsamic vinegar is only manufactured in two cities in Italy, namely Reggio Emilia and Modena, which are both in the Emilia-Romagna region.

Preparing the Ingredient

Only one ingredient is used to make balsamic vinegar using the traditional method: grape. The whole process begins by washing the fruits and pressing them, along with their skin, seeds, and stem, to create grape must. Only Lambrusco or Trebbiano varieties of grapes that were harvested specifically from Modena and Reggio Emilia can be used to make traditional balsamic vinegar.

Storage

The grape must is then boiled over an open flame to concentrate its sugars. After cooking, the liquid will be poured into wooden barrels and then stored for many years. The highest quality is aged for at least 12 years, while there are varieties that only need 2 to 3 years of storage. The wooden barrels used for storage should be made of certain types of wood, such as oak, mulberry, chestnut, and cherry.

Aging and Acquiring Flavor

A batch of balsamic vinegar will first be stored in a large barrel and acquire natural flavors from the wood. After a few seasons, its amount will diminish because of fermentation, and it will be poured into a smaller barrel made of a different type of wood.

The same process is repeated many, many times over the years until it achieves the desired concentration and viscosity. When poured into a bottle, traditional balsamic vinegar looks like a thick syrup.

The age of balsamic vinegar is determined by a council of experts who will do a taste test of the product. There is no exact number shown on the bottles because certain labels are used to indicate the age. “Affinato” (fine) refers to 12- to 15-year-old vinegar, while “Vecchio” (old) is at least 15- to 20-year vintage. Anything older than that is labeled “Extra Vecchio.”

Bottling

Even the bottles used for traditional balsamic vinegar should follow certain standards. Bottles used in Modena have a spherical body and a short neck, so they look like a bulb. Meanwhile, containers used in Reggio Emilia are a bit elongated, so they resemble an inverted tulip. However, both of them should not be too large because only 100-mL of balsamic vinegar is allowed to be contained in them.

The color of the bottle caps indicates the age of the balsamic vinegar. Red is used for Affinato, while silver is for Vecchio. Bottles with a gold cap are Extra Vecchio.

Modern Balsamic Vinegar 

Compared to the traditional process, the modern procedure of making balsamic vinegar is very easy, even though it differs depending on the company that manufactures it. The main ingredient is still grape, which is pressed to make must. Wine vinegar is mixed with the must to speed up the fermentation process. It is stored in oak barrels for at least two months, but there are varieties that are aged for a few years.

If you are looking for a place that offers balsamic vinegar for sale in New York, USA, you can turn to us at Fresh Fin Gourmet. Some of the products that we sell are either aged for three years or made from 100% Trebbiano grapes. Contact us today if you wish to learn more about the items that we sell.

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