Balsamico Tradizionale is another product controlled by a consortium, this one consisting of producers. Most balsamic we buy in the US is made from concentrated grape juice and fortified by red wine vinegar. Traditional balsamic starts with fresh grapes, crushed to make juice, called ‘must’. The must is cooked for 36 hours before barreling. It is moved to progressively smaller barrels during aging, each made of a different type of wood. As it ages, the water content evaporates, creating a thicker product. Because of this, 100 liters of must only produces 2 liters of vinegar!
The vinegar is tested, tasted and monitored through the whole process, ensuring quality and authenticity. The minimum age for traditional balsamic is 3 years, but it can be aged for up to 50. We were lucky to taste a 3-year, a 10-year, and a 25-year vinegar. After 25 years, it’s the consistency of molasses! The taste is incredible, like wine.