Know Your Balsamic: What It Is And How It’s Made
If you're a fan of authentic Italian food or even just Mediterranean dishes in general, you should know about Lucini.
What Makes a Balsamic?
The general term balsamic or balsamic vinegar is not protected, so any vinegar that uses the process involved in making it can carry the label internationally. To qualify, the base of the vinegar has to be grape must— whole pressed grapes complete with skin, juice, seeds, and stem. While balsam is a thing, the sticky plant resin has no role in the creation of balsamic vinegar. It's just a linguistic similarity. Traditional red wine vinegar varieties use the strained juice, fermented into wine and then from there processed into vinegar. Balsamic uses the grape must, creating a vinegar that is distinctly sweet, incredibly flavorful, and unique in its characteristics. While balsamic vinegar is not an origin designation with any level of international legal protection, there are three varieties that do carry that distinction. Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, the premium blend that is most accessible globally, is produced exclusively in Modena and Reggio Emilia and carries a protected status. It's made from a mixture of grape must and red wine vinegar, and it's the flavor you are probably most familiar with.
Unique Balsamic Blends and Traditional Varieties
If you're lucky enough to try one of the two traditional premium balsamic vinegar varieties that enjoy protected status as geographic labels, you'll find they are made from pure grape must, making them thinner than the more common premium variety. In addition to those varieties, which are made with grape varietals historic to their regions of origin and in those locations, there is a wide world of fruit-infused balsamic vinegar available at accessible price points for those looking to add a flavorful twist to their Mediterranean dishes.