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More on the traditional production of balsamic vinegar

traditional balsamic vinegar production

True balsamic vinegar is made of one thing: cooked grape juice.

But, it takes a minimum of 12 years, and lots of love, to transform ordinary juice into delicious balsamic vinegar.

Labrussco grapes are used for the juice. Lambrusco is a grape native only to this region of Italy.

It is then poured into a battery of wooden barrels. There are 5 barrels of 5 different woods, and 5 different sizes. (The wood types include: oak, juniper, cherry, and other local woods.)

traditional balsamic vinegar production

To prepare new barrels takes at least 2 days. They need to be thoroughly cleaned with soap, salt, and lots of warm water to remove all the tannins from the wood.

Then, after the grape juice has been cooked for 24 hours, it can be poured into the battery, filling each of the 5 barrels to the top.

The barrels are then left uncovered during the summer. They need hot summers and cold winters to become vinegar.

traditional balsamic vinegar production

After an entire summer of resting, about ¼ of the volume of each barrel would have evaporated, concentrating the flavor.

During the cold winter, the vinegar can be moved from one barrel to the other. The smallest barrel is filled from the next smallest, and so on. This evenly distributes the flavors of each wood into the balsamic.

traditional balsamic vinegar production

It takes 12 years to transform 100,000 liters of grape juice into just 10 liters of balsamic vinegar.

Not all vinegar is made from a blend of woods.

Sometimes a maker will make a reserve – a vinegar aged in only one type of wood. We were able to taste a reserve from juniper wood, and one from cherry. It was amazing to taste the difference!

traditional balsamic vinegar production

3 thoughts on “More on the traditional production of balsamic vinegar

  1. Mom

    WOW — I don’t know how you remember all this stuff, but it served as a fun reminder to me of all the things we learned that day in Modena!! Thanks for posting all this stuff!!

    1. strive4impact

      That’s why we write it down/type it… if we don’t, then we don’t remember it, and wish we would have written it down so we could look at it again. But if we do write it down, then we remember it and don’t need to have it written down. It’s a weird paradox. The fun thing about having it on the site is that it feels like we’re writing it for the benefit of others as well, which causes us to write more and more in-depth. It definitely was a fun and very memorable day.

      Have you opened/tried your authentic balsamic yet?

  2. Lisa

    We have opened it and tasted a couple of yummy drops. But there’s a problem — now of course I’m saving it for something special as it was a little pricey (gold in a bottle). The other problem is the beautiful box it came in. It’s too big for the kitchen cabinets, but too fancy to throw away!!

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