Balsamic vinegar is very popular for its sweet and sour subtle taste. You can purchase two related but distinctly produced types of balsamic vinegar. These are classified as traditional and commercial.
Traditional balsamic vinegar comes from its birthplace in Modena, Italy. Regulations there ensure the quality of vinegar produced meets specific standards. Skilled artisans formulate the product from white and sugary trebbiano grapes. Under their guidance, balsamic vinegar emerges. They then allow it to age for anywhere from six to up to 25 years before selling it.
The final product is tasted and rated by a panel of five judges and will bear the seal of Consortium of Producers of the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena. The result is an excellent, but quite expensive product. This is one reason why many people use prefer commercially produced balsamic vinegar.
Commercial balsamic vinegar can be made anywhere in the world. It doesn’t start from raw grapes but with the final product of certain grapes—wine vinegar.
The producers then combine this with either grape “must” or grape juice. Sometimes they add small amounts of caramel to get color stability. The commercial balsamic vinegar is readily available in the supermarket. It is considerably less expensive than traditionally produced balsamics. Use it to enhance the flavor of a variety of salty, astringent and sweet foods (but do note that it is a fermented food and as such it’s toxic for people on certain heart medications—err on the side of caution!)