I recently returned from a whirlwind tour of Modena and the Acetaria where our lovely clients Belazu source their award-winning Balsamic Vinegar.
It was only a short trip but it doesn’t take long to fully immerse yourself in the Emilio-Romagna way of life…
Our generous hosts Marina and Alessandra showed us around their immaculate acetaria (where they produce the Balsamic vinegar); and taught us the entire process of creating Balsamic vinegar – which is actually more complicated than I previously thought…in a nutshell:
The first thing you need to know is that there are two ‘types’ of balsamic vinegar: DOP and IGP:
Not overly popular in the UK because of it’s price point (somewhere between £70 for 12 years and £120 for 25 years)
It is made by gently crushing grapes (legislation dictates which grape varieties can be used)
These crushed grapes are then cooked and put into barrels. For the next 12 or 25 years, the liquid is transferred to smaller and smaller barrels, encouraging the evaporation process to occur; the result is a thick, rich, complex and balanced vinegar.
In the UK the vast majority of vinegar is IGP – the quality of the vinegar from the restrictions on IGP are less strict as they are for DOP production.
Marina and Alessandro blend wine vinegar with the crushed grapes and age the vinegar in barrels – this is ‘graded’ rather than ‘aged’ like the DOP vinegar.
On Thursday morning we woke up to meander around the Albinelli market in Modena, which was filled with cheese, meat and vegetables all local to the area.
All in all we were treated to a fantastic trip and it was fascinating to see where the Belazu balsamic vinegar originates.
When buying balsamic vinegar, look at the ingredients list and make sure ‘cooked olives’ is the first ingredient listed rather than ‘wine vinegar’. This ensures that you’re buying a product which uses the old-fashioned technique which usually results in a better flavour – of course we would recommend you looking out for Belazu’s delicious balsamic vinegar which is available from Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose.