I have always seen “Modena Balsamic Vinegar” on the shelves at grocery stores, in some of my favorite recipes and, of course, in my own pantry.

But, I never actually *knew* why it was so special.

So…I decided to investigate. What I found was actually fascinating!

It turns out that the first written record of this very special vinegar popped up in 1046 when the Holy Roman Emperor Henry III received it as a gift for his coronation.

Yes! That bottle of Balsamic Vinegar you probably have in your kitchen RIGHT NOW was once a gift suitable for royalty!

Who knew?!

Today you can buy Balsamic Vinegar for as little as a couple of bucks to as much as $200 an ounce. There are two factors that account for this huge price range:

1.    The complexity of the process used to make the Balsamic Vinegar (believe it or not it takes years, some pretty complicated math AND an entire tasting commission to determine whether or not the process was successful)

2.    The quality of the grapes.

That’s where Modena Balsamic Vinegars steal the spotlight.

Authentic, traditional balsamic vinegar is only made in one place in the world — the same place where Emperor Henry’s pretty bottle came from: the Modena Province in Reggio Emilia, Italy.

Fun Fact: this region is located right next to Parma, Italy where Parmigianino cheese is made which just happens to pair lovely with a good balsamic vinegar! Delicious coincidence, no?

Modena is the perfect place to grow the grapes for Balsamic vinegar because the intense seasonal changes in temperature are important for the maturation of the vinegar. 

In the winter, the frost makes the Lambrusco and Trebbiano variety of grapes typically used to make balsamic vinegar, white and sugary.

In the scorching summer, the sugars have the chance to concentrate and develop an acidic and distinctive “agro-dolce” flavor.

Once the grapes are harvested, they must be pressed and cooked slowly over an open flame. This is a delicate process that takes careful attention and time so that the grapes do not ferment. This lack of fermentation is what makes balsamic vinegar so different from other vinegars.

Once cooked, the grape must or “mosto cotto” settles before being placed inside aging barrels to begin the maturation process.

This aging process begins in the milder autumn and spring temperatures to allow for microbiological activity to take place inside the barrels.

Throughout this entire process, no additives or extra flavors are added to the vinegar. True Modena Balsamic Vinegar is made with ONLY the juice of the grape.

If you would like to try a delicious, traditional Modena Vinegar, I recommend our Ruccello Olive Oil 5-Year or 25-Year Cask Aged Balsamic Vinegars.

Ciao for now,


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