Balsamic Vinegar of Modena is a very special vinegar that roots back to ancient Roman times and instead of using wine like other Italian vinegars, the product is obtained by using the cooked juice of the grape, known as the “must”. There are several different types of balsamic vinegars and unfortunately, sometimes they are represented with false claims; for example for their aging claims, quality of ingredients and origin. This has led to some misconceptions and originated some confusion among traders and consumers. This presentation aims to clarify the different types and its production so to offer a better understanding of Balsamic Vinegar of Modena.
Two different recipes originated throughout history, and gave birth to the only two existing, regulated products: Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena DOP (Protected Designation of Origin) and Balsamic Vinegar of Modena IGP (Protected Geographic Indication) Again, these two items are the only two items regulated and approved by the Italian Government and European Union.
1. Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena DOP
What is Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena?
It is a special vinegar produced by obtaining the juices (must) from pressing the grapes and this must is cooked for hours over direct fire until a brown, syrupy liquid with a good grape smell is obtained (cooked must.) This cooked must is then aged in wooden barrels for a minimum of 12 years following the Solera System.
These barrels are made of different types of wood, such as cherry, chestnut, oak, mulberry, and ash and they each hold different capacities (the first barrel holds about 40 gallons and the last one holds about 2 gallons capacity). Normally there are sets of 5‐7 or 9 barrels. This set is called “batteria”.
The Solera system, also called ‘topping up,’ calls for the continuous (every year) and consequent topping up of the cooked must into the next smaller barrel so each year the ‘newest’ cooked grape must is blended with the one from the previous year already contained in the barrel.