Balsamic vinegar is not always the same and understanding the differences may help you to choose the most suitable product for your culinary needs. On the market, today we can find two main qualities of Balsamic Vinegar: Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena PDO and Balsamic Vinegar of Modena PGI. Let’s find out together the characteristics and the main differences between the two, in order to get a clear guide to help us choose the right product.
The main difference between the two products is the production method. Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena PDO is the most original form, produced according to the ancient tradition, and it is the one, that requires longer aging time in the precious wooden barrels. In fact, the minimum aging in this case is 12 years. Balsamic Vinegar of Modena PGI, on its turn, can be bottles and sold already after 60 days of aging in the wooden barrels. These are the two aging minimums. Obviously, both products can be and normally get aged for much more time.
The other aspect that we have to get into consideration is the label. The ingredients used for these two products are completely different. In the case of the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena PDO the ingredient is only one: the cooked grape must. Balsamic Vinegar of Modena PGI is a blend of the cooked grape must and wine vinegar. The ingredients list of the latter may also include concentrated grape must and caramel (and nothing more). This makes the PGI Balsamic Vinegar a multi-ingredient product, which give the producer the possibility of using different quantities to obtain different blends with different flavors.
In front of two open bottles, we can distinguish the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar from the PGI one only smelling both of them. The acetic degree of the latter will “pinch” the nose; it is a particular characteristic of the PGI product. The Traditional Balsamic will be much smoother, and you will be able to perceive the notes of the various woods that has been used for the aging.
The Best Balsamic Vinegar: PDO or PGI? In Any Case, Enjoy It in a Good Company!
What must help you to choose the best Balsamic Vinegar is not the research of the very best product on the market, but of the one that may better suit your culinary needs. In fact, Traditional Balsamic Vinegar is normally used with hot meals, which helps to open up its aromatic notes, while the PGI product works better with salads and fresh vegetables, giving them the right acidity, the effect that could not be obtained with the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar.
How to Choose Balsamic Vinegar by the Bottle.
We have seen how to choose Balsamic Vinegar by reading carefully the label on the bottle. Denomination, ingredients and aging time can help us to recognize the quality of the product we are buying. There is one more quick way to distinguish the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena from the PGI one: the bottle.
In fact, Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena PDO gets bottles only and exclusively in a particular spherical ampule of 100 ml. designed by Giugiaro, which is the same for all the produced, and the whole bottling process takes place in special authorized centers. This very bottle will help to recognize the authentic Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena PDO.
A good thing to do would be to purchase Balsamic Vinegar of Modena PGI in a transparent bottle, rather than in a dark glass bottle. In fact, Balsamic Vinegar does not alter it organoleptic characteristic if exposed to sunlight (the thing that happens to olive oil). Indeed, in the case of Balsamic Vinegar, a transparent bottle is a sign of major transparency of the producer. And it will also allow you to see the density of the product. A thicker product is the sweeter one.