The production of Balsamic Vinegar: from past to present

Balsamic Vinegar is one of the most loved and well-known products in Italy and abroad, closely linked to the city of Emilia of which it is a symbol. Its production dates back to a long tradition, and has its roots in unsuspected places around the world. But today, how is the highly appreciated Black Gold of Modena produced? In this article we will tell you about the production of Balsamic Vinegar. From the past with its origins to the present with new processing techniques, all the way to our customers’ tables.

Production in the past

Balsamic Vinegar is viscerally linked to Modena and its territory. One cannot speak of one without mentioning the other, with its climate and its sugary grape varieties that have been appreciated since ancient times. Indeed, the anthenate of Balsamic Vinegar has its roots in the grape must and acetates that were already widely used in Mesopotamia, Palestine and Egypt. The use of must reached as far as Rome, where the ancient Romans created a kind of ancestor of balsamic. In fact, thanks to them, they began cooking grape must, an essential step in the production of Balsamic Vinegar. However, at first it was not used as a condiment: we have to wait some time for this practice, and there is a trace of this use in the Georgics of Virgil.

The ancestor of balsamic has undergone several variations over time, and the production of the Balsamic Vinegar we know today is of a more recent nature, dating back to the XVIII century. In fact, the adjective ‘balsamic‘ began to appear in the records of the ducal inventories of the Reggia Estense di Modena in 1747. Over time, the techniques have been improved and passed down from generation to generation, allowing us to bring an exceptional condiment to today’s tables.

Balsamic Vinegar of Modena achieved a very important objective some 30 years ago: in 1993 it received its first official recognition from the Ministry of Agriculture and then, in July 2009, came the official recognition of the I.G.P. by the European Commission. The Traditional of Modena, on the other hand, found its D.O.C. protection in 1986 and D.O.P. recognition in 2000.


Balsamic Vinegar production: how is it done today?

Two types of Balsamic Vinegar are born out of a thousand-year history: Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena P.D.O. and Balsamic Vinegar of Modena P.G.I.. Both are made exclusively from grapes from the vines of Lambrusco, Sangiovese, Trebbiano, Albana, Ancellotta, Fortana and Montuni from our province.

The production of Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena D.O.P.occurs using cooked grape must, without the addition of wine vinegar and thanks to lengthy refinement and/or ageing in bottles made from prized woods. In fact, after selecting the best musts, the cooking process begins in the best vinegar cellars in Modena over low heat in open vats. In this phase, the characteristic flavour of this product develops. Subsequently, with the refining and/or ageing phase, the barrels containing the product are arranged in batteries (usually consisting of 5 barrels) of different capacities (60-50-40-20-10 litres), and the balsamic is progressively transferred from one barrel to another. The casks can be made of oak, chestnut, juniper, cherry, mulberry, ash and acacia.

The Balsamic Vinegar of Modena I.G.P., on the other hand, is made from a combination of cooked must and wine vinegar. The ageing and refining always takes place in barrels of various woods, however the timescale is shorter: it is, in fact, a period of 60 days to 2 years. The result is a product with an unmistakable taste and smell.

Our production of Balsamic Vinegar: a visit to the vinegar works

At Acetaia Marchi, we carry out each stage of production of Balsamic Vinegar with great care. A lot of care, a lot of passion and a high degree of attention to detail allow us to offer products that are genuine and capable of conquering every palate. After all, it takes all this and more to bring this delicious Italian excellence to our customers’ tables. We, however, do not feel the fatigue: preparing our Oro Nero makes us happy and satisfied, because we know the value of our work.

If you are passing through the area and are wondering what to do in Modena, if you are curious and would like to learn more about the stages of production of Balsamic Vinegar and its long tradition, then you can book a visit to our Acetaia. This experience will give you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the history of balsamic and discover all the secrets of the producers. In fact, we offer various packages of visits in the vinegar cellar available in different languages, to show customers from all over the world every step of this fascinating production process.

An immersive experience in the vinegar cellar

Beginning with a walk through the vineyards, the role that this precious product has played and still plays today in the culture and cucine of Emilia-Romagna will be told. Visitors will also be able to take part in private tastings, where different varieties of Traditional Balsamic Vinegar will be on offer. With this experience, visitors will learn to distinguish the various tastes and aroma of the product, and the unique history that each type tells. Meetings with the masters acetai will then allow them to share their experiences and knowledge with their guests, and to satisfy all curiosities.

Finally, to bring a piece of Modena into your own home and try a product of exceptional quality, at the end of your visit you can buy the products we prepare in our Bottega. Here, producers will be happy to advise their customers, answer their questions and explain all characteristics in detail. This direct relationship adds an invaluable value, making the experience unique and authentic.

What to see in Modena: the Acetaia and its tradition

A visit to the Acetaia is much more than just a tourist activity: it is a immersive experience in local history and culture, allowing you to discover the secrets of a product with a tradition handed down from generation to generation. This exclusive visit allows you to get to know one of the most widely recognised and celebrated Italian gastronomic excellence in the world.

Don’t hesitate and put us to the test: thanks to the guided tours we have planned for you, you will be able to take part in an event that will leave an indelible remember in your mind, and allow you to appreciate this extraordinary product even more. We look forward to seeing you in our vinegar cellar in Modena!