Traditional balsamic vinegar of Modena
The PDO traditional balsamic vinegar of Modena is a unique product among the world’s vinegar-based seasonings. Unlike vinegar, which is obtained from an alcoholic liquid, it derives directly from grape juice, and since the year 2000 boasts the Protected Denomination of Origin.
The grapes used are white trebbiano, red lambrusco and ancellotta, which come from vines solely intended for the production of balsamic vinegar, and a late harvest to obtain a high concentration of sugar.
The grape is gently pressed and the juice obtained is cooked (not boiled) for 18-24 hours, so that it is reduced by approximately 1/3. The cooked must is kept in a barrel called “mother barrel”, where an initial natural alcoholic fermentation begins.
Then the balsamic vinegar ripens in the “battery”: it is a set of barrels (at least five) with decreasing capacity, made from different woods, stored in attics since they are suitable places for very hot temperatures in summer and cold temperatures in winter, and which favor fermentation, acetification and maturation processes.
At the end of the winter the “pouring” is done: from the small barrel (15 lt.) about 10% of the content is extracted (the balsamic vinegar for the whole year), from the second-last barrel the small one is filled up, from the third last barrel the second-last is filled up, and so on till the biggest one which is filled up with the cooked must stored in the “mother barrel”.
Finally, after a maturation of at least 12 years, often lasting even 25 or more years, the traditional balsamic vinegar obtained is present on our table as a seasoning with well-balanced flavor, persistent aroma and a dark brown color.
Besides being used on cold or hot salads, it is suitable for flavoring risottos, escalopes, roasts and omelets. Delicious on slivers of Parmesan cheese, but also on strawberries and vanilla ice cream.
The province of Modena, Spilamberto, boasts the presence of the Museum of Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena which guards an “acetaia” and offers guided tours, courses for tasters and competitions for the best traditional balsamic vinegar.