What is Balsamic Vinegar?
Balsamic Vinegar is an aromatic, thick, dark, syrup-like aged vinegar. The best balsamic vinegar is prepared in the hills of Modena, in Italy. Producers start with the white and sugary Trebbiano grapes, which are left on the vine to ripen for as long as possible to develop their sugar. The juice or “must” is pressed out of the grapes and boiled down over an open wood fire into a thick syrup, called mosto cotto in Italian.
The “must” ages using the Solera Method for a minimum of 12 years in a series of barrels of successively smaller sizes. These barrels, similar to wine barrels, are made from different woods including oak, chestnut, acacia, cherry, mulberry, ash and juniper. The Solera Method involves “topping off” each barrel as it evaporates with some of the younger balsamic from the previous barrel. The vinegar over the years absorbs the flavors and aromas from the different types of woods. This results in a rich and delicious vinegar that is complex in character.
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