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Do you know about ‘aged’ balsamic vinegar?

Did you know that there are actually three types of balsamic vinegar? Not just the type you put on your salad. During the Renaissance, balsamic vinegar was appreciated in the House of Este, but today the traditional balsamic vinegar is highly valued by chefs and gourmet food lovers.

Authentic artisan balsamic vinegar is the only kind that may be legally described as Aceto Balsamic Tradicionale; this is identified by the letters D.O.P which may follow the name of the product. Reggio Emilia or Modena is a consortium which strictly monitors this type of balsamic in order to prevent mislabelling and imitations.

During the production stage, the balsamic vinegar is aged in a series of barrels which then transforms into syrup and is aged from a minimum of 12 years. The final product is generally a rich, glossy, deep brown colour and holds a complex flavour.

Chefs and connoisseurs would use this sparingly to enhance the flavour of steaks, seafood and risotto. For exquisite flavour this type of balsamic can be also used on desserts such as gelato, fresh fruit and custard.

The second type of Balsamic is Condimento which are identical to the production and quality process as the original product. The ageing product is a minimum of 6 years and likewise results to syrup of a rich and flavourful constancy. However, there are no official standard or labelling systems. Similarly, chefs and connoisseurs would use this sparingly to enhance the flavour of steaks, fish and fruit.

The last form of balsamic is one which you are commonly familiar with and is in fact an imitation of the traditional product. Unfortunately, consumers are often over-charged and misled by producers of Aceto Balsamico di Modena or Balsamic Vinegar of Modena. In actual fact, as of April 2010, the EU has deemed that this type of balsamic vinegar can no longer be labelled by its apparent age.

Uses of this form of balsamic vinegar are for salad dressings, dips and reduction sauces.

Click here to see Mussini’s range of 30, 50 and 100 year balsamic, an element which magically enhances a dish.