It doesn’t take long to say balsamic vinegar
Feb 14, 2023
(Dario Bressanini - December 2021)
This name denotes two different vinegars and products in vastly differing quantities, as Andrea Bezzecchi recounts in a book he contributed to, entitled Gastronazionalismo (Gourmetnationalism), written by Michele Fino and Anna Cecconi (People, 2021). The family tradition of producing balsamic vinegar in Reggio Emilia and in the Duchy of Modena dates back many centuries and has always been characterized by obtaining the precious condiment from a starting point of nothing but cooked grape must. First, a stage of alcoholic fermentation will take place in the grape must, followed by an acetic one and lastly an ageing process of at least 12 years (which can even surpass 25 years), during which numerous transformations take place, as well as a slow evaporation process which renders the product denser and richer in sugars. The ultimate acidity will be given only partially by the acetic acid, together with other acids, namely tartaric, succinic, malic and gluconic acids.This is how Traditional DOP Reggio Emila (or Modena) Balsamic vinegar is produced. On the other hand, Modena IGP balsamic vinegar is obtained through a mix of wine vinegar and grape must (cooked and/or concentrate), optionally coloured with caramel and with a requisite maturing process of 60 days. Its acidity is, in most cases volatile, provided, however, by acetic acid. Besides the obvious price difference, it will not come as a surprise that the two products have hugely contrasting ageing processes. Furthermore, the annual production of IGP Modena comes in at 100 million litres, while that of the DOP product is 10,000 litres: 0.0001% of the quantity.