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Balsamic Vinegar, Balsamic Dressing and Balsamic Creams

Genuine Balsamic Vinegar is one of the best Italian specialties worldwide and sets unique quality standards in the kitchen. In our online shop there are high quality balsamic vinegars - Traditional DOP and IGP from Modena - as well as quality balsamic creams.

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What is actually "balsamic"?

The term "balsamic vinegar" is understood to mean vinegar obtained from boiled grape must, which undergoes a long maturing process. This is called "Balsamico Tradizionale DOP". If wine vinegar is added to boiled grape must, it is "Balsamic IGP". Both vinegars are specialties from the northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna, whose origin is defined either by the protected designation of origin (g.U., Italian DOP) or by the protected geographical indication (g.g.A., Italian IGP).

How to recognize real Aceto Balsamico

True Aceto Balsamico therefore always carries a protected designation of origin - either IGP or DOP -, depending on its origin, with the addition of "di Modena" or "di Reggio Emilia". Only for products with IGP or DOP seal, you have the guarantee that it is real balsamic. This does not mean, of course, that the balsamic vinegar would not have certain typical features that make it an appreciated (and often copied) Italian specialty all over the world.

☝ The characteristics of the real balsamic vinegar:

  • Color and consistency → recognizable by eye
  • Aroma → perceptible by the sense of smell
  • Taste → detectable during tasting

Color and consistency

Typical of real Aceto Balsamico is its bright, rich dark brown color. If you stir balsamic vinegar in a glass for a few seconds and then pause, you will notice that the liquid will slowly slide down the glass wall. This is an indication of their density and viscosity: the larger they are, the more resistance the liquid makes to the rotational movement of the glass.

A true balsamic vinegar - with the designation of origin DOP or IGP - can never be white or bright.

Conversely, a dark brown balsamic vinegar is quite likely to lack the IGP / DOP seal and the suffix "di Modena" or "di Reggio Emilia".

True Aceto Balsamico, on the other hand, must necessarily carry one of these two seals. In addition, "Balsamico Tradizionale DOP" must not contain any additives, while products with IGP seal the addition of dyes (especially E150, so caramel) is allowed to some extent.


The scent of balsamic vinegar is usually described by the words "smell of cooked", which is due to the long maturation of the cooked must in wooden barrels. Add to that a fruity note, which you absorb with the sense of smell. In order to perceive the scent of balsamic, one should swing the vinegar in a goblet, so that the different aroma components can evaporate more easily, while keeping the nose over the edge of the glass.


Finally, the taste test in the mouth follows: To do this, take a small sip of vinegar, let it circle in the mouth for a few seconds, and then spit out the liquid - without swallowing it. Now you evaluate the taste properties of the balsamic vinegar. The whole process of tasting is very similar to that of a wine tasting.

For High-quality balsamic vinegar, there are countless uses in the kitchen: there are delicious recipes for meat, fish and vegetable dishes, for salads, marinades and even for ice cream. It is advisable to use different types of balsamic vinegar for different dishes - just as the choice of wine varies depending on the dish.

Real balsamic vinegar: Either DOP "traditional" or IGP seal

Real balsamic vinegar is only available in two versions:

  • Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale DOP with the addition of "di Modena" or "di Reggio Emilia", depending on which of the two cities it comes from.
  • Aceto Balsamico di Modena IGP

The Abbreviations for these versions are ABTM or ABTRE and ABM. The best known is undoubtedly the balsamic vinegar from Modena. Of the two varieties that are produced in this city (and the surrounding province of the same name) - i.e. Balsamico Tradizionale DOP and Balsamico IGP - the latter is clearly the most widespread, because the balsamic vinegar with the IGP seal does not require a long ripening time, so it can be offered at significantly lower prices than those with a DOP seal.

In any case, Aceto Balsamico is an Italian specialty. Their manufacture outside of the provinces of Modena and Reggio Emilia is strictly prohibited .

Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale DOP

Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale is a product with a protected designation of origin (PDO, Italian: DOP). In order for a balsamic vinegar to be awarded the DOP seal of approval, it must be produced according to a precisely defined procedure:

  • For balsamic vinegar with a DOP seal, only cooked must of grapes from the region (mainly the varieties Lambrusco and Trebbiano) may be used.
  • The finished product must be sensory-tested by a specialist tasting panel . This committee decides on the award of the seal.
  • A minimum of 12 years long aging in wooden barrels is required for Balsamico Tradizionale, and at least 25 years for Balsamico Extravecchio,
  • Filling on the characteristic 100 ml vials may only be carried out in approved companies.

Each bottle of Balsamico DOP is provided with a numbered seal, the valid label of the authorized bottling company and the label of the producer.

Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale DOP is usually produced in vinegar manufacturers that specialize in the long process of production and maturation and offer the best conditions for this.

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Aceto Balsamico di Modena IGP

When talking about Aceto Balsamico di Modena , it is mostly balsamic vinegar with IGP victories l. The abbreviation IGP stands for "Indicazione Geografica Protetta", in English: Protected Geographical Indication (PGI).

The region to which this designation of origin refers is the territory of the provinces of Modena and Reggio Emilia. In addition, the entire process from production is defined in EU Regulation Nr. 583/2009 .

  • The minimum maturity is two months; the expansion must be done in wooden barrels.
  • ABM IGP must contain at least 20% grape must and 10% wine vinegar.
  • The addition of (maximum 2%) caramel is permitted. This stabilizes the dark brown color that is typical of this balsamic vinegar.

The taste of IGP grade balsamic vinegar is slightly tarter than Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale with DOP seal.

Both are made in both Modena and Reggio Emilia.

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Balsamic dressing and "crema di balsamic" - real balsamic?

Balsamic-based condiments are not included in the IGP or DOP regulations and are therefore not covered by them. Therefore, there are considerable differences in the quality of these products.

This can be the case with balsamic dressings and similar condiments.

  • are products that have been traditionally made in the Modena or Reggio Emilia provinces (including the ripening process). In these cases there is basically a traditional balsamic vinegar, but this does not meet the formal criteria. Because such products are neither subject to control by the responsible protection associations nor to any certification process. This applies even if they are manufactured, expanded and filled in accordance with IGP or DOP guidelines.
  • are products based on Wine Vinegar that have been enriched or blended with other ingredients, such as sugar or thickeners. This is intended to simulate a product made from balsamic vinegar without using the criteria of the IGP regulation.

For balsamic dressing and similar condiments, there are no official standards, seals of approval or binding regulations for the product name.

Therefore, the information on the label allows only a limited conclusion about the quality of the product. This depends solely on the standards that the manufacturer sets.

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