Balsamic Vinegar is an aromatic and thick syrup-like aged vinegar. The best balsamic vinegar is made in Italy from white and sugary Trebbiano grapes, which are left on the vine to ripen for as long as possible to develop their sugar. The juice is pressed out of the grapes and boiled down into a thick syrup which is then aged in barrels.
White Balsamic Vinegar has a sweet, subtle flavor and a clean color. This vinegar is mainly used in marinades, in salad dressings and light colored sauces.
White balsamic is aged up to 12 years, in new wood barrels which have not been fired on the inside. The white balsamic condimento is less complex and has not been caramelized over an open wood fire in copper kettles, as the dark condimento has been.
All white, or light, balsamic vinegar is subject to oxidation. Over time, this natural process leads to a darkening of the vinegar from gold to a deep amber color. This process does not affect the flavor of the balsamic vinegar in any way. If appearance is critical, we recommend that these light vinegars be consumed within three months of purchase.
Dark Balsamic Vinegar is considered to be the real balsamic and is the most commonly used vinegar. Unlike white balsamic vinegar, the dark balsamic has a long tradition and has been in use since the Middle Ages.
As the name suggests, the dark balsamic vinegar comes in thick colors and is aged longer than white balsamic. Dark balsamic is aged for a minimum of 12 years, in a series of seven barrels of successively smaller sizes. It is said that some dark balsamic vinegar has been aged for over 100 years, whereas white balsamic is typically aged 1-12 years.
Much of the flavor comes being caramelized over an open wood fire in copper kettles, and from the fired, old wood barrels previously held older batches of balsamic. These barrels, similar to wine barrels, are made from different woods including oak, chestnut, acacia, cherry, mulberry, ash and juniper. These woods add character to the vinegar.