3 October 2017

Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena

Modena MO, Italia

Secrets and Passion behind The Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena

Modena finally comes out with its traditional balsamic vinegar, kept secret for years and years. The entire world uses the balsamic dressing, which is just a remake of the original traditional one.  It is in fact time to know the truth. The traditional balsamic vinegar is achieved through a long procedure from grape must, which is aged for several years in a series of wooden barrels.  Most of the people in this world don’t have an idea of its work procedures and confuses this product with the commercial one called Balsamic Vinegar.

The name itself is little bit confusing indeed. This industrial product is the cheaper one for the public, made of grape must blended with wine vinegar, sugar syrup and all the necessary to reach the requested colour and taste. Its retail cost is around € 0.30 per liter. Meanwhile the traditional one has only grape must and traces its roots to the XI century, since that moment, due to its higher price it has been destined for domestic use or for special gift. Nowadays it is also used in higher class restaurants. Because of its long processing it costs about € 500.00 per liter. In fact the minimum aging period can last from 12 to 15 years. Above 25 it becomes precious. Time is the most important ingredient. The grape must is cooked slowly at 60° C in an open vessel until it is reduced to one third of its original volume. It is then placed in wooden barrels, where it passes years acidifying until it reaches the wanted balance. Each year the wooden barrel is to be changed and as each of them is made of different types of wood, the vinegar absorbs the complex flavours of the casks. The aging process can be stopped at the year of 15 or 25. As it goes on aging it evaporates and gets thicker and darker therefore more concentrated. 

After passing a strict test, it is bottled and sealed.  The judgers express their evaluation through scores, necessary to classify the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena. The product can be sold as Traditional Balsamic Vinegar for the ones aged 15 and Traditional Balsamic Vinegar extra-vecchio for the ones aged 25. If it doesn’t pass the test it can’t be bottled therefore sold. So imagine after all those years of working if your product is refused by the judges! Its production is strictly overseen from the beginning to the end until it goes through the certification agency.

Nowadays all these hidden "acetaias" can be visited, many of them are free of charge. We visited the “Acetaia Rossetti” in Bastiglia, (MO). They have some big barrels on the ground floor meanwhile, the smaller ones are located on the rooftop. Mr. Marcello Rossetti explained us all the working procedures. The tour lasted 30 minutes and ended up with the vinegar tasting. It was really worth visiting. Probably I will never have money to buy a liter of it but at least I’m happy I have seen how proudly the Modenese are preserving this old tradition.

It is a matter of passion and secrets which is handed down (necessarily) from one generation to the next. All of my pictures here are coming from Acetaia Rossetti.  If you are close to Modena, don’t miss out the experience to learn the truth about the most wanted dressing in the world. 

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