As far back as the 12th century vintners in the Modena and Reggio Emilia areas of Italy were crafting Balsamic Vinegars from the pressings of fresh white Trebbiano grapes that had never been permitted to ferment into wine. Although considered by some to be a wine vinegar, it is indeed not the case since Balsamics are made from those pressings and not from wine. The process involves the fabrication of a “must” or concentrate that starts by a 30% reduction classically done in large copper pots over an open fire.
From there it’s time to sit in barrels for an eternity. The aging process is termed as the Solera method from the Spanish word that means “on the ground”. The must goes thru a progressive stack from top to bottom of barrels made from Oak, Chestnut, Cherry and Ash, each imparting a subtlety and nuance until the concentrate arrives at the lowest or “on the ground” barrel to finish the aging process, achieving optimal density and the most complex flavor characteristics. Time span…a minimum of 12 years and like ours, primarily 18 years. We import our Aceto Balsamico exclusively from Modena to afford our clientele a rare, truly artisanal, viscous Italian product rich in fruity and woody aromas.
Balsamic vinegar contains powerful antioxidants called polyphenols, which fight cell damage and boost energy. Additionally, it aids in digestion and balancing the body’s sugar levels, helps control heartburn, acid reflux, and diabetes, and can reduce cholesterol and the frequency of headaches. It can also suppress the appetite, which contributes to weight control. One tablespoon of Balsamic Vinegar contains 20 calories, 240mg sodium, 5g sugar, zero fat, and zero cholesterol. Back in history, Balsamic Vinegars were taken as a tonic that was bestowed only on the most prominent and wealthy. Today there should not be a well-stocked pantry that is without it.
White Balsamic Vinegars
Commonly referred to as “Balsamico Condimento”, White Balsamic Vinegar blends white grape must with white wine vinegar and is cooked at a low temperature to avoid any darkening. Some manufacturers age the vinegar in oak barrels as we do, while other use stainless steel.
The flavors of the two are very similar, although the dark balsamic is slightly sweeter and tends to be a little more syrupy. The white has more of a clean aftertaste. The main reason one would use white balsamic, rather than regular, is mostly aesthetic. White balsamic vinegar is milder and less sweet than regular Balsamic vinegar and is often considered more suitable for use with salad dressings, since it does not have a strong flavor that can be overpowering when used on salad greens. It can be used with lighter colored foods, dressings, or sauces without any discoloring.