Choosing the right Balsamic Vinegar for your everyday cooking can be tricky since there are tons of different Balsamics available nowadays on the market. That’s why I came up with an idea to create a simple step-by-step guide for choosing best balsamic vinegar for your needs. Let’s jump right into it.
1. First of all, decide what you are going to use it for.
Do you need an extra old Balsamic with amazing intense wood taste for some special occasions or a great present? You can directly go for Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena DOP. There are two varieties of it: Affinato – aged min. for 12 years and Extra Vecchio – aged min. for 25 years. If you need something even more exclusive, check this Centenario Limited Edition.
Though if you need a Balsamic for everyday use, you can go for Balsamic Vinegar of Modena IGP line.
2. In case you decided to go for IGP, check the ingredients first. Long story short, the best ingredient list for Balsamic Vinegar IGP looks like this: “cooked grape must, wine vinegar.” Make sure there is no caramel or concentrated grape must listed. Wine vinegar should go after cooked grape must because the ingredients are listed in descending order (by ingoing weight). This means that when the food was manufactured, the first ingredient listed contributed the largest amount and the last ingredient listed contributed the least.
By the way Sulphites in Balsamic Vinegar are residual, in a very small amount they naturally appear in any vinegar.
3. The next step would be to taste the product you are buying, but I perfectly understand that there are not many shops where you can do a balsamic tasting (unless you are in Castelvetro di Modena so you can have a vertical tasting at La Vecchia Dispensa).
What’s next if you can’t taste it? You can try to find the density of the product on the label. Usually products with low density (1.17 – 1.22 Kg/Lt) have sour sweet pretty sharp taste which is perfect for fresh veggies, salads and marinades. If that’s what you need, check La Vecchia Dispensa’s Green or Red Labels. The higher density products (1.25-1.30 Kg/Lt) are perfect for white meats, fish and cheeses. Check out Purple or Blue Label. The high density balsamics (1.32 – 1.37 Kg/Lt) are ideal for red meats, desserts and aged cheeses. If that’s what you are into – Organic Red Label or Gold Label are great options.