Making and using the True Traditional Balsamic Vinegar

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

The must from specially cultivated varieties of grape is reduced by slow simmering to a half or a third of its volume and after a year's fermentation and acidification sets off on its long slow journey from youthful zest to sumptuous maturity, siphoned from one container to another in a batteria of barrels of decreasing size, each made from a different wood which adds its own aromas to the slowly concentrating liquid. This traditionally takes place under the rooftops of homes in the region, from the Este palace in the centre of Modena, where the ducal acetaia flourished in the 18th century, to the attics of ordinary families. Here the extremes of temperatures and climate contribute to the maturing process as the aceto balsamico concentrates by evaporation during the stifling summer heat and rests and matures during the cold, clammy winters.