How to recognize quality of Balsamic Vinegar

The various types of vinegar from the industrial to the traditional DOP

The market offers a huge variety of dressings which are so-called “balsamic” and they have various pricing, starting from just a few euros up to many hundreds euros.

In order to meet the consumers’ needs the Italian legislation has defined some denominations leading the consumers’ into a conscious choice between quality and saving.

Batteries traditional balsamic vinegar of ModenaTraditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena D.O.P. (Protected Origin Denomination)

It is obtained by cooked grape must, matured as a consequence of a long acetification process, derived from natural fermentation and its progressive concentration, and through a very long ageing process in a barrel series made of different kinds of woods and having decreasing volumes, free from any additional aromatic substances. This ageing process identifies two different products:

  • Ampoule of aceto balsamico tradizionale affinatoAffinato: the traditional one, aged at least 12 years ( identified by white caps)
  • Ampoule of aceto balsamico tradizionale extravecchioExtra-vecchio: the extra-old one, aged at least 25 years (identified by gold caps)

The grape must is produced only by Trebbiano grapes and Lambrusco DOC which are cultivated in the Modenese soil. All the working and ageing phases are held in Modena area under the strict control of the Authority in charge.

Since 2001, by law dtd. 15th January, CERMET is the authorized Certifier, allowed by MIPAF to carry out all necessary verifications on the Protected Origin Denomination “Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena” and to supervise the inspections on the complete productive chain, such as inspections on the vineyards, checks of the registers about load and download of grapes, must and ripe products, and finally the inspections in the “acetaia” (place where the barrels are left during the ageing process).

Official Ampoule ABTM giugiaroThe product must be bottled in a MIPAF authorized white glass case, having a spherical shape but with a rectangular base made in massive glass. It has a capacity of 10, 20 or 40 centilitre.Numbered labels guaranteed DOP

On the plug of each single bottle it is applied an identification mark , bearing a serial number. Before being packaged the product must be examined by an examining board composed by expert tasters, which certify the suitability to DOP title. The examination board assesses if the product reflects visual, olfactory and gustatory standards.

Administrative measure dtd. 15th May 2000, rectified in the Official Italian Law Journal (GURI) Nr. 261/2001 - GURI nr. 124 dtd. 30th May 2000:

Balsamic Dressing

Bottiglie di condimenti balsamici The Balsamic Dressing is the industrial and cheap version of the “Traditional” Balsamic Vinegarprotected by DOP mark.

The Balsamic Dressing is solely prepared with cooked Trebbiano and Lambrusco grapes must and aged for at least 4 years in barrels made of oak , chestnut and cherry wood.

Besides being aged for a smaller amount of time, the working procedure of the Balsamic Dressing is different from the Traditional one and each producer has its own procedure: this therefore creates a considerable variety of Balsamic dressing and aromas which can be less or more similar to the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar. Moreover, the bottling is not bound to being examined by a board of expert tasters.

Unlike the industrial vinegar, the Balsamic dressing does not contain wine vinegar, colouring agents, aromas or caramel and does not upset the sense of smell. It also has an high thickness level.

Balsamic Vinegar of Modena PGI (Protected Geographical Indication)

Ingredients of balsamic vinegar IGPIt is obtained by cooked must, concentrated must and wine vinegarthrough a complicated working process which is anyway quicker than the one for the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar.

Aceto balsamico industrialeThe musts used to produce this kind of vinegar come from grapes solely cultivated in the Emilia Romagna region. This product can be refined in minimum 60 days, starting from the date in which the raw material assembling is terminated.

For this reason it is possible to find it at a lower price and can be easily sold on a large scale.

The acknowledgment of PGI status of Balsamic Vinegar of Modena is a very recent event and dates back to 2009 when the Official European Law Journal published the European Regulation no. 583/2009 issued by the European Commission on 3rd July 2009 by means of which the Balsamic Vinegar of Modena is registered in the PGI list.

European Regulation (CE) no. 583/2009 dtd. 3rd July 2009, issued by the European Commission: