On the shelves of the supermarkets and in the shops today, there is a huge choice of different qualities of Balsamic Vinegar of Modena. Often we take the product we already know or the one that we think may suit better our preparations. Sometimes, though, when there is no rush and we take time to observe carefully the exposed products, we can easily come across some curious items, we don’t have clear ideas about. Today we are going to talk about Balsamic Condiments.
In order to understand what a Balsamic Condiment is, it is necessary to begin with the famous Balsamic Vinegar of Modena and to understand the differences between the two.
Differences Between Balsamic Condiment and Balsamic Vinegar
Balsamic Vinegar of Modena is a product subject to protection recognized by the PGI and PDO registrations. These two denominations are registered in Europe and are recognized by the majority of the non-EU countries. Any eventual production outside of these denominations is not subject to control, thus the final product cannot be called “Balsamic Vinegar”.
On these occasion, the products get labeled with different names, e.g. “condiment”, “balsamic condiment”, “balsamic food condiment”, etc. It is a clear attempt to get an assonance with the protected denomination product “Balsamic Vinegar of Modena”.
Absurdly, sometimes it may happen that a product has been produced in full respect to the PDO or PGI regulation, but it still gets labeled as a condiment. Obviously, when this product gets placed on the market, there is a real downgrading, with a consequent and inevitable loss of value. The reasons for this can be different, but the most frequent one is the bottling of the product into a recipient of a capacity and/or materials different from those indicated by the regulation. For example, Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena PDO must be bottled into a specific ampule (designed by Giugiaro), otherwise the product will get downgraded.
Downgrade Conditions of Balsamic Vinegar of Modena
In order to obtain the denomination Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, it is highly important to follow the production regulation. Below we would like to list some of the main downgrading conditions of the original product:
- A producer cannot decide to bottle his Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena PDO in a bottle different from the bottle patented by Consortium (therefore bottles of different shapes and capacities), otherwise the product will be automatically downgraded to a Condiment.
- In the same way, Balsamic Vinegar of Modena PGI will not be recognized such if bottled in containers of the capacities different from those allowed by the regulation, downgrading immediately to a Condiment.
- The production of Balsamic Vinegar with grapes different from those specified in the regulation leads to the declassification of the product for the non-compliance of raw materials, thus it will be considered and marketed as a Condiment.
- The so-called compound products, realized by mixing Balsamic Vinegar of Modena with fruit aromas, get placed on the market as Condiments.
- The product gets downgraded when the production is not certified, in other words when the producer and/or the product are not part of the established supply chain, controlled and guaranteed by the specific external bodies.
- Creams and glazes are Condiments by their nature (whether Balsamic Vinegar of Modena is the main ingredient or not).
Conclusions. Are Balsamic Condiments Worth Buying?
This article may help a consumer to make a right choice when purchasing a product denominated as a Condiment. Remember that sometimes choosing among the different “Balsamic Condiments”, you can easily come across a product identic to the original Balsamic Vinegar of Modena PGI or PDO, even if it is called differently probably because bottled in a container different from the one allowed by the regulation. From the other side, you have to be very careful for sometimes purchasing a “Balsamic Condiment” we risk to bring home a low quality product that has little or nothing to do with the authentic Balsamic Vinegar of Modena.
In conclusion, Balsamic Condiments cannot be considered equal to the original Balsamic Vinegar of Modena PDO or PGI, since the last ones have the certification, which has been a quality guaranty for consumers for decades.