The Traditional Art of Making Balsamic Vinegar

Balsamic Vinegar of Modena has been a precious commodity since the 11th Century.

Mandarano Balsamic of Modena is produced in a 120 year-old Family-owned Acetaia who have devoted their lives to the tradition, art and science of Balsamic Vinegar of Modena.

Produced in small-batches, using only high quality grapes from the Modena region, aged in precious wood barrels in the traditional manner under the careful watch of high-skilled artisans, it embodies the essence of the true, honest, authentic Balsamic Vinegar of Modena. 

Mandarano Balsamic of Modena – Aging Barrels

Only in the Emilia-Romania region of Italy and specifically the area in and around Modena can this coveted vinegar be found. More amazing is how its unique process and family tradition has been handed down from generation to generation since the 11th century.

Like wine making, the production of Balsamic vinegar is an art form. It is made from combining mainly Trebbiano and Lambrusco grapes found in the rich soil around Modena. The ripest, sweetest grapes are picked late in the season and pressed. The grapes are cooked very slowly until the water content is reduced and the resulting "must" is placed into barrels. An older Balsamic vinegar is added to assist in the acetification (the process of converting, or of becoming converted, into vinegar). Each year the vinegar is transferred to different barrels so that the vinegar can obtain some of the flavors of the different woods. 

As the fermentation process continues, the vinegar evaporates and thickens. The vinegar matures through cold winters and hot summers and in the process develops and refines its unique flavor and scent. 


Balsamic vinegar is divided into several categories determined by age and quality (the art form previously mentioned).  But before we get into the different grades and categories, first let me say that the $4.00 to $7.00 bottle of "Balsamic" sold at your local supermarket tastes nothing at all like the real Authentic-aged Balsamic.y

Commercial grade.  Mentioned above - usually not aged at all. 

Artisan Grade.   Produced in a thriving cottage industry based in and around Modena, these Balsamic vinegars are of excellent value in both price and taste and range in age from 3 to 5 years at a typical price of $18 to $25.00. 

Artisan Grade II. A second level of higher quality is offered by a few quality producers with ages of up to 6 to 15 years. These higher grades of Balsamic have a price range of $25 to $50 per bottle. 

Traditional Balsamic of Modena. Lastly we have the highly prized Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena, a registered trademark of the official Modena Consortium of Balsamic Vinegar producers who operate under strict regulations and controls to guarantee the highest level of quality. Traditional must be aged at least 12 years (average price for 3.38 oz is $80) and Traditional Extra Vecchio can only be called so after aging a minimum of 25 years (average price for 3.38 oz is $180). You will know it is the official Traditional Balsamic because it only comes in a unique and specially designed bottle. This bottle was designed in 1987 by Giorgetto Giugiaro founder of Italdesign.

Ultimately, it is the taste, not the age, that determines the quality of a vinegar.