How to recognize real Balsamic Vinegar? Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena is the king of Balsamic Vinegars and it is rarer than you think! This Italian treasure , produced in the region Emilia Romagna, must not be confused with the cheap Balsamic condiment we usually find at the grocery store; this is usually made of grape must and caramel coloring and has little to do with real Balsamic Vinegar!
The region Emilia Romagna counts over 300 Original Balsamic Vinegar producers (A.B.T.M. Aceto Balsamico tradizionale di Modena) and many of them own a Vinegar cellar in the province of Modena, a beautiful city in the heart of the region.
Every serious producer knows that the production of a high-quality Balsamic Vinegar requires time and patience. In fact, Original Balsamic Vinegar must age for at least 12 or 25 years. It is this long aging period in wooden barrels that give it its characteristic flavor which is a perfect balance of sweet and sour, strong and smooth at the same time. This long aging period is what differentiate it from store-bought Vinegars which are at best aged a few months; most of times what you buy is a condiment aged only a few weeks.
But how to recognize real Balsamic Vinegar of Modena? How not to be fooled by imitations when buying a bottle of this precious condiment? You don’t have to be an expert! In fact, a smart customer must simply to look at the packaging: traditional Balsamic Vinegar producers must bottle the product in spherical bottles (1o0 ml) with a narrow neck for the cork. There are also different colors that can allow you to identify the aging period of the product. A vinegar aged for 12 years will have a red cap while a Vinegar aged for over 25 years will have a gold one; furthermore the latter will be labeled as Extra Vecchio (Extra-old).