Having the best balsamic vinegar in your kitchen is a must have staple and will enhance the taste of any meal you add it to. We’ve all had balsamic vinaigrette at some point in our lives. But it’s shocking how many people have never experienced true, authentic balsamic vinegar.
Balsamic vinegar is a dark-colored vinegar that’s rich, slightly sweet, aged or fermented. Authentic Italian balsamic vinegar is made through a wooden barrel maturing process. The ones made in Modena, Italy are very popular products as they are made according to Italian traditions.
When Modena balsamic is IGP certified, you can trust that it’s authentic. The IGP label shows that the balsamic vinegar is from the region where it is produced and processed.
The main ingredient in balsamic vinegar is called “grape must,” which is crushed grapes. So making balsamic vinegar is slightly similar to the wine-making process.
Surprisingly, the top balsamic vinegars aren’t the store bought kind. Usually, they’re imported from Italy, aged several years, and contain the highest quality ingredients.
Plus, high quality balsamic vinegar can be used in a variety of ways. Therefore, it’s a great item for every household chef to have on hand.
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Top 10 Reviews for the Best Balsamic Vinegars
A quality balsamic vinegar should be a staple in any modern kitchen because of its many applications. Whether it’s mixed in dressings, drizzled on mozzarella cheese and tomato, or swirled into soups or stir frys, it adds a sweet yet tart flavor to many dishes.
We think everyone should have the best balsamic in their kitchen. However, these vinegars can be difficult to find since you can’t just pick them up at your local supermarket. In addition, importing an aged, quality balsamic vinegar from Italy would also be time-consuming and expensive.
Selecting the best one takes research and time so that is why we’ve compiled this list for you.
If you want balsamic vinegar that’s the “real deal,” then try Giuseppe Giusti. They make authentic Italian balsamic vinegars that taste and feel like a true balsamic should.
This pure, authentic vinegar is made from cooked sundried grapes and aged wine vinegar. It’s aged for at least twelve years so the complex flavors can marinate.
It contains notes of plum, honey, and vanilla when bottled. The flavor is still acidic like a true balsamic even though the taste is sweet. It’s perfect for pairing with beef, soft cheese and fruit.
Authentic balsamic vinegar is made in Italy. Giuseppe Giusti is both Italian and family-owned. The family has been making this type of vinegar for over 400 years. They are the longest-running vinegar producer in the world.
The tradition as well as the wood barrels used to make the product have been passed down by 17 generations of artisan balsamic makers.
In addition, it’s also made in 300-year old wood barrels and aged for a minimum of twelve years. This technique adds to the rich, deep, and complex flavors that Giuseppe Giusti has perfected.
Due to the authenticity, this is a premium product that comes at a premium price. It’s the only drawback if you’re on a budget. Nonetheless, it’s long-lasting and well worth the investment.
- IGP certification ensures rigorous testing and purity.
- 5 ounces of award-winning balsamic vinegar.
- Aged for 12 years in 300-year old wood barrels.
- Premium price.
- May be too sweet for some.
- Contains a large amount of wine vinegar, diluting the grapes.
Due Vittorie balsamic vinegar is priced right in the middle so it’s both budget-friendly and premium. It’s also 100% natural, a best-seller in Italy, and regularly featured on the TV show Master Chef.
This producer uses a unique combination of two types of grapes to make this product: freshly harvested white Trebbiano and Lambrusco grapes. The result is a full-bodied sweet balsamic that blends well with its level of acidity.
This balsamic will leave you with the after taste of black cherry. It adds a deep flavor to fruits, vegetables, and even ice cream.
This product has received international recognition. It’s been a #1 best-seller in Italy since 2010 and is featured in its top restaurants.This balsamic has also been repeatedly highlighted on the successful TV show Master Chef with Gordon Ramsay himself.
Its international success is no surprise. Due Vittorie is dedicated to combining quality and tradition. The balsamic is slowly aged in durmast barrels that stimulate the transfer of tannins and the absorption of the elements of the wood.
It is then rigorously tested to guarantee its high quality and compliance with regulations. It’s aged for at least 12 years since Due Vittorie is IGP certified. However, we’d like to know exactly how long it is aged for.
- 250 milliliters of balsamic vinegar that includes a free cork pourer.
- IGP certified.
- #1 best-seller in Italy and featured on Master Chef.
- Exact length of aging process is unknown.
- Viscosity may be too thick.
- 6% acidity can cause sourness.
MiaBella is a maker of authentic, high-quality, and versatile balsamic vinegars. The grapes used are also certified organic and aren’t tainted with any artificial flavorings.
Their aged balsamic contains only one ingredient: 100% Trebbiano grapes. It is one of the highest quality sources of grapes used to make pure balsamic vinegar.
There are no added sugars, flavors or preservatives. The grape must is aged in oak and juniper wood cask barrels to enhance its flavor.
MiaBella balsamic is less acidic than other brands. Therefore, it has a nice balance of richness, sweetness, and tanginess. It tastes delicious on meat, fish, salads, fruits and even vanilla ice cream.
Quality and purity are top priorities for MiaBella. Therefore, their balsamic vinegar is only produced in very small batches.
Each bottle is numbered and signed in batches of 1000 which allows full control and consistency. They want to ensure that each batch is smooth, rich, and sweet.
- 5 ounces of balsamic vinegar that’s aged up to 18 years.
- Produced in small batches to ensure quality and consistency.
- Made with 100% organic Trebbiano grapes.
- Premium price.
- Texture may be thicker than others.
- 5% acidity is less than traditional balsamic.
Villa Manodori is a popular product because of the artisanal quality. This balsamic vinegar has a rich flavor, dark syrup color, and glaze texture.
Each bottle undergoes a 10-20 year maturation process in wooden barrels made of oak, juniper, and chestnut. 100 years of family tradition have gone into the making of this vinegar.
This 8.5-ounce bottle is a specialty item that makes for an excellent addition to any kitchen or as a gift.
This product has a premium price because it’s made in limited quantities by a legitimate Modena chef. Massimo Bottura is the chef and owner of Osteria Francescana, a renowned restaurant in Modena, Italy.
Bottura handcrafts this balsamic vinegar using traditional methods of maturation. He sources the ingredients locally. Then, he matures the balsamic until the aromas of the wooden barrels marinate with the sweet flavors of the Modena grapes.
The final product has received lots of attention. It is always in demand because it intensifies the flavors of many different types of foods.
- 5 ounces of artisanal balsamic vinegar.
- Handcrafted by a Modena chef.
- Matured for 10-20 years in fine wooden barrels.
- Available in limited quantities.
- Specialty item is pricey.
- Gourmet balsamic vinegar may intimidate casual cooks.
M.G. PAPPAS is a great product if you’re on a budget but want to enjoy the highest quality balsamic possible. It competes with the premium options in terms of authenticity, age, purity, and taste. It’s a true, 100% balsamic vinegar from Modena, Italy that is IGP Certified.
This product is aged for 10 years in wooden barrels for a smooth, grapey flavor with a delicate acidity. It contains only two ingredients: cooked grape must and red wine vinegar.
It has just the right balance between aged grape must and aged vinegar. It has a nicely balanced sweet and sour taste with just the right amount of acidic bite.
This company never uses any additives, caramels, preservatives, or other artificial agents. They do not want to distract from the naturally sweet and sour flavor of their vinegar. You can use it in sauces for beef and pork dishes and on cheese, salads, bruschetta and fish.
Everyone should have true balsamic vinegar in their kitchen. However, you shouldn’t have to spend an outrageous amount on it.
M.G. PAPPAS is affordably priced and a great product that fits into nearly any budget. This quality balsamic is also perfect for drizzling on top of desserts, vegetables, and other dishes. However, it’s sweeter and thicker than other brands.
- 5 ounces of IGP Certified balsamic vinegar.
- Barrel aged for 10 years.
- Sweet and thick consistency.
- Not an ultra premium product.
- May be too thick for some.
- Sweetness may limit versatility.
A good balsamic vinegar has two ingredients: grape must and red wine vinegar. When the balsamic is almost entirely grape must, it takes the flavor to a whole other level.
Gourmet Living has produced a truly pure balsamic. The primary ingredient is cooked and fermented grape musts. It still contains a small amount of red wine vinegar though.
However, it complements rather than overpowers the taste of the must. There are no additives or preservatives in this balsamic.
The grapes undergo a rigorous process. They’re prepared, cooked, cooled, aged, and then bottled. The result is a thick and dark balsamic that’s rich in flavor.
Gourmet Living recommends only using a few drops at a time because of the potency. It’s perfect on top of meats, fish, fruit and even desserts.
This product is produced and bottled in Modena, Italy as a true, authentic balsamic vinegar should be. It is also IGP Certified.
This certification is an extra step that balsamic makers take to ensure their product is the best quality. It is only given to Italian products and confirms that they are produced in the region stated.
Our only reservation is that it has a higher sugar content than other brands. This makes for a sweeter dressing or glaze but may not complement savory foods as much as sweet foods.
- 5 ounces of barrel-aged balsamic vinegar.
- IGP Certified and made from mostly cooked grape must.
- Free of additives and wine vinegar.
- High sugar content.
- More compatible with sweet foods than savory foods.
- Premium price.
Ritrovo’s IGP Certified balsamic vinegar has only been aged for 6 years yet it competes with other high-end options that have aged much longer. In fact, they have found a producer of traditional balsamicos that uses a special evaporation technology. This technology allows their balsamic to taste like it was aged for 25 years in only 6-7 years.
Ritrovo is made with a mixture of Lambrusco and Trebbiano grape must. In addition, they utilize red wine vinegar.
This combination results in an aromatic, thicker, and richer balsamic. This balsamic vinegar is great for meat marinades and salad dressings while it also pairs nicely with cheeses and fruits.
Its unique aging process really makes this product stand out from the rest. Ritrovo ages its grape musts in wine barrels made from French oak.
From there, a regulated evaporation process is used to speed up the aging process by almost four times. Instead of paying a premium for 25-year aged balsamic, consumers pay a fraction of the price for one that tastes like it’s matured for much longer.
However, it does give off a wine flavor which may not be desired if you’re looking for a pure balsamic taste.
- 5 ounces of high-end balsamic vinegar.
- Formulated to taste like 25-year aged balsamic.
- IGP certified.
- Only aged for 6 years.
- May have a strong wine taste.
- Evaporation process isn’t traditional.
Authentic balsamic vinegars are usually associated with Modena, Italy. However, this one is made in small batches in Sicily, Italy.
Papa Vince is a Sicilian family-owned balsamic vinegar maker. The grapes are locally grown in Sicily and the balsamic is aged for 8 years. They uniquely age it in cabot and cherry wood which is free of lead lining.
The taste of this product is what makes it truly different from others. Since the main ingredient in balsamic is grape, balsamic vinegars are naturally sweet. Like coffee and wine, balsamic users may describe the flavors according to various notes.
Papa Vince’s balsamic contains notes of fig and raspberry. The fruity taste achieves a nice balance of sweet and tart. Papa Vince uses a lot of red wine vinegar so it also contains notes of red wine. The viscosity is perfect for salad dressings, sandwiches, pizza, vegetables and fruit.
One drawback is that red wine vinegar is the first ingredient. A true balsamic should contain mostly grape must.
This ingredient profile affects the purity and flavor. While the sweet and tart flavor is delicious, it’s questionable whether this balsamic vinegar is traditional.
- 5 ounces of Sicilian balsamic vinegar.
- Aged for 8 years.
- Wooden barrels used for maturation are lead-free.
- More red wine vinegar than grape must.
- Overly sweet flavor may affect versatility.
- Some users may not like fig and raspberry flavor.
Have you ever wished you could have access to secret Italian family recipes? Italians are known for their trade secrets when it comes to wine, sauce, and even balsamic vinegar.
Fattoria Estense makes authentic Italian vinegar using their secret Italian family recipes. Therefore, you can make traditional dishes that call for balsamic right at home. Although this bottle travels all the way from Italy, it’s sealed with wax to preserve the freshness.
This product gets its rich flavor from the 10-year process required to make it. First, Fattoria Essence ferments the ingredients. Then, they are aged in wood barrels for a decade.
Most balsamic vinegars are very dark in color, but this one has an amber color. The lighter color doesn’t take away from the depth in taste, however. It has a syrupy texture with a sweet and rich flavor.
Fattoria Essence strongly recommends combining this balsamic with a variety of different foods. It pairs wells with meat, fish, cheese, dressings and fresh fruits.
One drawback is that this product contains added sulfites. All balsamic vinegars contain naturally occurring sulfites. However, added sulfites are used to preserve the product.
- Affordable price.
- Aged for 10 years.
- 5 ounces of versatile Italian balsamic vinegar.
- Contains added sulfites.
- Added preservatives.
- Thinner consistency than others.
Balsamic vinegars contain very similar ingredients. Some manufacturers must get creative to make theirs stand out. So that’s exactly what QO did.
Their aged balsamic contains only two ingredients: cooked grape musts and red wine vinegar. However, QO achieves a thick density by reducing the grape must to a concentrate.
This creates a very potent flavor profile and a thick, dense full-bodied texture. Due to the concentration of grapes, the balsamic is sweet without added sugars yet balanced with red wine vinegar.
QO also ages their balsamic in wooden barrels, although they do not disclose the length of the aging process.
One characteristic we like about this product is that it’s made with 100% natural ingredients. From the grape musts used to create the balsamic to the final product, QO uses only thoughtful raw materials. There are no added thickening agents or artifical coloring.
The dark color is a natural result of the concentrated grape musts and no preservatives are added to the aged balsamic. While some prefer very thick, high viscosity balsamic vinegar, this one is thicker than the Italian tradition.
- Affordable price.
- 5 ounces of all-natural balsamic vinegar.
- Flavor achieved by concentrating grape musts.
- Thickness may limit versatility.
- Length of aging process is unknown.
- Pairs better with sweet foods than savory ones.
Balsamic Vinegar Buyer’s Guide
You could walk right into any grocery store and pick out many different balsamic vinegar products right off the shelf. However, most store-bought balsamic vinegars lack the authenticity, taste, richness, and versatility of true balsamic vinegar imported from Italy. They’re also packed with sugar, oil, and additives.
Check out the video below to see how traditional balsamic vinegar from Modena, Italy is made.
The top balsamic vinegars contain minimal yet high-quality ingredients. They come directly from Italian manufacturers and undergo a lengthy aging process. Here’s what you need to know when deciding which is the best balsamic for you.
The aging process is what sets it apart from other vinegars. Balsamic vinegars can differ and therefore yield different results depending on the manufacturer, the length of aging along with the process of aging.
Length of Aging
Traditional balsamic vinegar is aged for 12 years or more. Some are aged for as few as 6 years while others are aged for 25 years or longer. The time period allows the main ingredient—“grape musts,” or crushed grapes—to form into a thick, flavorful syrup.
As the balsamic ages, moisture from the grape musts evaporate which causes the mixture to thicken. The longer the aging process then the thicker, richer, and sweeter the balsamic usually becomes.
Throughout the years, the balsamic vinegar is moved to different wooden barrels. The new barrels vary by wood type and size. Typically, the balsamic vinegar will start in a large wooden barrel and slowly move to smaller wooden barrels. For instance, oak and chestnut woods are commonly used to start. ‘Then, it’s moved to other types of wood barrels like cherry, juniper, and cabot.
Some of the highest quality balsamic vinegars come from Modena, Italy. They are made according to the Modena tradition. Balsamic vinegars produced in this region of Italy are usually aged for a longer period of time. In addition, they only use 100% Trebbiano grapes.
The purest balsamic vinegars only contain one ingredient: grape musts. However, some contain more than that. Other ingredients may add to the flavor while some decrease the quality.
Authentic balsamic vinegar will enhance your meals with its rich flavor and boldness. Whether you’re vegan, gluten-free, or a carnivore, balsamic vinegar adds a unique balance of sweet and savory to your favorite dishes.
So we hope that after reading our detailed balsamic vinegar reviews and comprehensive buying guide, you’ll have all the information you need to select the best balsamic for your kitchen.