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Old 09-21-2007, 05:20 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Andy M. View Post
I have a bottle of balsamic vinegar I paid less than $10. for. It's labeled:

Aged Balsamic Vinegar
Sweet Vinegar of Modena
Acidity 6%
Product of Italy

I bought it in a MA supermarket and there is no listing of ingredients on the label. Knowing the labeling laws, I have to assume ther is nothing in the bottle but Aged Balsamic Vinegar. If it contained brown sugar or caramel color, etc. it would have to be listed.

As it was not expensive, I assume it is a younger balsamic rather than one aged to a sweeter, richer, thicker consistency.

Has my logical mind led me astray? If so, tell me how.
Check the label, does it have “leaf” indicators on it? If so, the leaf rating is established enough that a full ingredient list isn’t needed. With a true aged Balsamic, the first ingredient you look for is “grape must”. But, since vinegar itself is an ingredient, it’s kind of a grey area as to whether vinegar itself needs an ingredient list.

With commercially produced Balsamic, a reputable manufacture will start with a good wine vinegar and add some balsamic to it. A dishonest manufacturer trying to cash in on the Balsamic craze will use cheaper ingredients and add sugars, caramels, etc.

Besides, there are exemptions to the labeling system. If the product has very little to no nutritional value, it doesn’t have to list ingredients, If it is made by a small business with less than a certain amount of income coming from the food product, it doesn’t have to list the ingredients. If the small business as less than a set number of employees, it doesn’t have to list the ingredients. There are several exemptions to listing the ingredients.
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Old 09-21-2007, 05:24 PM   #22
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That leaf system describes traditional and non-traditional balsamic vinegar. To me that means real balsamic and what people now call balsamic even though it does not qualify by the original definition.
Traditional and non-traditional are a function of manufacturing. Even in traditional manufacturing, the length of time it was aged affected its taste, consistency, and quality. And the leaf system is a measure of judging those factor of taste, consistency, and quality.
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Old 09-21-2007, 05:29 PM   #23
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Yes a function of manufacturing and what goes into their product.

Just as you can buy sparkling wine that call themselves Champagne, that does not make them Champagne.

True balsamic vinegar is hard to find in your local supermarket.
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Old 09-21-2007, 05:37 PM   #24
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That leaf system describes traditional and non-traditional balsamic vinegar. To me that means real balsamic and what people now call balsamic even though it does not qualify by the original definition.
That’s because this is America, and “true” Balsamic is an artisanal product of Modena Italy. The same could be said of any “true” product or any region on this planet. A true Philly cheese steak, a true bratwurst, a true cigar, a true Pinot Grigio, etc.

Heck, even here in America with the way times have changed, it’s hard to get “true” products. Look at “true kettle corn”. When was the last time you saw a vendor making that the old fashioned way.
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Old 09-21-2007, 05:39 PM   #25
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True balsamic does not have any caramels added. It is also not fermented.

The juice from Trebbiano grapes are boiled down until it becomes a dark syrupy consistency. A mother is added and it all goes into oak barrels. As it ages it is generally moved to smaller and smaller barrels. These barrels can be different types of wood other than oak.

Fermentation is the processing of carbohydrates into alcohols OR acids. Vinegar is an acid. The grape "must" gets fermented.
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Old 09-21-2007, 05:45 PM   #26
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That is exactly my point though keltin.

True balsamic is (from what I have heard) an amazing thing. The stuff that passes for balsamic here in the local supermarkets, while it can be very good or delicious or what have you, is not actually balsamic vinegar. True balsamic can be found though. I am pretty sure stores like Williams and Sonoma carry it as do other specialty food stores.

A true philly cheese steak is what it is. Just because someone is Boston calls their steak and cheese a philly cheese steak, well it isn't. That doesn't mean it won't be good, but it is not a philly cheese steak.

True balsamic is what it is. It is made a very particular way with particular ingredients and aged for a particular amount of time. Anything outside of these guideline, no matter what the manufacturer may call it, is not balsamic vinegar.
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Old 09-21-2007, 05:47 PM   #27
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Quote:
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Fermentation is the processing of carbohydrates into alcohols OR acids. Vinegar is an acid. The grape "must" gets fermented.
But it does not start out fermented. True balsamic does not contain red wine vinegar that is added to the grapes. The grapes are boiled down. The mother is added. That is when fermentation begins.
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Old 09-21-2007, 05:53 PM   #28
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Quote:
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Did it have an official Modena seal on it Andy?

I have read of a ton of manufacturers labeling their fake balsamic just the way yours is labeled. Only the true stuff will have the real seal. Of corse some of them have seals, but just not the actual seal.

There are no indications of official seals or leaf system or much else. It's a spartan label.

GB, wouldn't the seal only be present on vinegars produced within a consortium? Balsamic vinegars are produced outside the two major consortia and would not carry any seal but would still be real balsamics. In the same vein as chianti only being produced in the chianti region and within a consortium. Otherwise, it's a Sangiovese.

If someone wants to buy me a bottle of $100 balsamic and send it to me, I'll do a comparative taste test and post a full report.
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Old 09-21-2007, 05:54 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GB View Post
That is exactly my point though keltin.

True balsamic is (from what I have heard) an amazing thing. The stuff that passes for balsamic here in the local supermarkets, while it can be very good or delicious or what have you, is not actually balsamic vinegar. True balsamic can be found though. I am pretty sure stores like Williams and Sonoma carry it as do other specialty food stores.

A true philly cheese steak is what it is. Just because someone is Boston calls their steak and cheese a philly cheese steak, well it isn't. That doesn't mean it won't be good, but it is not a philly cheese steak.

True balsamic is what it is. It is made a very particular way with particular ingredients and aged for a particular amount of time. Anything outside of these guideline, no matter what the manufacturer may call it, is not balsamic vinegar.
I agree, especially with the bold and red text. That is my point. Just because they didn't make it the artisanal way, doesn't mean it's not good or doesn't carry a "balsamic" flavor.....especially those that are made by combining true balsamic with wine vinegar.

I’m not sure what the point is here though. The question was, how does Balsamic vinegar differ from white vinegar. And the basic answer is, it is sweeter and darker......and that is true of nearly every product made that labels itself Balsamic whether it be motherland artisanal balsamic, or commercially produced non-traditional. And since we are here in America where 98% of the Balsamic vinegar sold is going to be non-traditional, I’m not sure what use it is in pursuing the purists line of thought in what “true” is since we can’t get it, at least not that readily, and not at a price most of us want to pay.
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Old 09-21-2007, 06:02 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GB View Post
But it does not start out fermented. True balsamic does not contain red wine vinegar that is added to the grapes. The grapes are boiled down. The mother is added. That is when fermentation begins.
I never said it started out as a fermented product. Fermentation is a step in the production. And I know how a “true” Balsamic is made in the artisanal fashion. The copper cooking vessels, the must of Trebbiano grape.....but not limited to the Trebbiano since a true balsamic can also be made from the Ancellotta, Lumbrusco, and Sauvignon grapes. The vinegar mother, the evaporation process, the smaller wooden barrels, often of different varieties of wood. I know all about a “true” balsamic as done in Modena.

I know there is a difference between Modena (traditional) Balsamic and commercially produced Balsamic. But, I really don’t want to type out “Traditional Modena Balsamic” or “Non-Traditional Commercially Produced Balsamic” each time I type "Balsamic".
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