Traditional Balsamic Vinegar
Real balsamic vinegar only comes from Modena and Reggio Emilia in Italy, where traditional methods are used, and a special certification agency oversees the entire production process. It may carry a more expensive price tag, but traditional balsamic vinegar will be bursting with sweet, rich, complex flavor and aroma and a velvety texture. You may notice notes of molasses, chocolate, cherry, fig or prune, and it may have a slightly smoky flavor. The wood in which the vinegar is matured imparts distinct flavors.
Traditional balsamic vinegar will always be labeled Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale and will carry a “Denominazione di Origine Protetta” (D.O.P) stamp. This is a European Union certification that guarantees the production, place of origin, and—most importantly—quality of an ingredient. Since traditional balsamic from Modena is only sold in 100 mL bulb-shaped bottles and traditional balsamic from Reggio Emilia is only sold in 100 mL inverted-tulip shaped bottles, make sure to look for these.