Food - Drink
How Grocery Store Balsamic Vinegar Differs From Traditional Balsamic
While the plethora of balsamic vinegar options at the grocery store may be confusing, keep in mind that there are two types of balsamics — traditional (tradizionale) and commercial (non-tradizionale). Traditional balsamic vinegar is highly regulated and must be made using the traditional methods of Italy’s Modena or Reggio Emilia.
Commercial vinegar, however, is unregulated and contains sweeteners, coloring, and preservatives. It is cheaper than traditional balsamics because its process of adding wine vinegar to unfermented white grape juice shortens the minimum 12-year aging time to an average of two months to three years.
To know whether you’re buying a traditional balsamic vinegar at the grocery store, look for the IGP (Indicazione Geografica Protetta) label, whereas the commercial ones will be label-less. The top-shelf balsamics, on the other hand, will have the DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta) label and can cost more than $100.