A best balsamic vinegar is a true store-cupboard staple – best kept on standby, ready to spruce up sauces and swirl over starters. But with so many on offer, at such staggeringly different price points – how do you know the best one to buy? You can trust our independent reviews.
Top 10 The Best Balsamic Vinegar In The UK 2021
In this guide, we’ll be looking at various types of best balsamic vinegar, how to spot a quality bottle, and how to successfully pair them up with foods.
1. Modena Traditional Balsamic Vinegar Extravecchio
In at numero uno is a truly regal condiment by Giuseppe Giusti, founded in 1605. Slowly aged in a series of antique barrels of various woods for a minimum to 25 years, this vinegar is made to “tradizionale” standards. Strictly following an ancient system, it is extracted from casks that are centuries old.
Aromas and flavours of plum jam and red fruits intertwine with honey and vanilla in perfect balance, creating simply the best balsamic you will ever taste. The bottle itself has the expected gold cap and seal, encased in a beautiful wooden box lined with silk, perfect for a very special occasion or as a gift.
2. Morrisons The Best Balsamic Vinegar of Modena
Dark, rich and glossy, with an aroma of fig and molasses. We enjoyed the thick, smooth consistency and complex flavour with a fruity tang. However, we found the acidity lingered.
3. Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena PDO 25 Years Old
Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena is unique and different from all other vinegar based condiments. Unlike ordinary vinegar which has its origin in an alcoholic liquid, balsamic vinegar is produced directly from grape juice. Grapes, harvested from producers own vineyards, are crushed and their liquid – “must” – is boiled in an open vat over fire. This liquid is then placed in high quality wooden barrels in which through an oxidation process, it is transformed into vinegar. The barrels are kept in a vinegar loft – acataia – where over a number of years, the precious liquid inside is lovingly cared for through a special technique involving transfers and topping up.
4. Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena PDO 12 Years Old
Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena PDO with aging characteristics of over 12 years. Fully harmonious and mature flavour, intense and persistent aroma and high density.
Placed in the attics of houses, the barrels are subject to the summer heat and the winter cold; they are organised according to their capacity and made up of different woods: oak, mulberry, chestnut, cherry, sometimes juniper. Here the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena acidifies, matures, ages and achieves an equilibrium that only the preciousness of time and the experienced hand of man can produce.
After a rigorous examination carried out by the Consortium of Producers of the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena PDO – of which Ermes Malpighi is one of the founders – the guarantee seal with a serial number is applied directly onto each package. The Malpighi family is one of the most ancient that produces Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena PDO (since 1850, they have arrived to the fifth generation); they now own 3000 barrels in which the TBVM matures and acidifies.
It was born as a digestive, to be consumed in small glasses at the end of a meal; over time it has found its space in the menus of great international chefs.
5. A Gourmet Balsamic vinegar – Saporoso
A top quality product, created to fulfill gourmand necessities for each day use.Acetaia malpighi have been producing distinctive balsamic vinegars for the reason that mid-1800, passing down strict traditions for 5 generations of the malpighi household.
Balsamic condiment, the density is syrupy, the perfume is full and intense, with the flavour of untamed flowers, grass and cooked mustard. Saporoso interprets from italian as savoury, tasty and spicy.
6. Balsamic Vinegar of Modena with White Truffle Tuber Magnatum Pico Salad Vinegar Dressing Spray Gourmet
This best balsamic vinegar is a beautiful combination of balsamic vinegar from Modena together with white truffle. It could turn a professional chef and any premium cuisine enthusiast into a true exclusive cuisine wizard. You are literally a spray away from turning your dish into a magical masterpiece. Suitable for consumption together with fresh salads, stewed vegetables, red and white meats, seafood and much more.
7. Aceto Balsamic Vinegar of Italiani Modena IGP
Thick and syrupy Aceto Balsamico di Modena, produced in Modena, Italy using traditional methods and matured in wooden barrels. Protected Geographical Indication status. Suitable for coeliacs, vegetarians and vegans.
8. Clearspring Organic Balsamic Vinegar
Clearspring Organic Balsamic Vinegar is produced by the Mengazzoli family using the Trebbiano grape and red wine vinegar. It has then been aged in oak and larch wood kegs to create a rich and distinct flavour.
This best balsamic vinegar originates from Italy and was traditionally used in Italian food. Balsamic has its very own, unique flavour yet it compliments sweet foods, fruit & salad dishes, chilled cheeses (including goats cheese), tomato-based food and spicy dishes very well.
9. Filippo Berio Balsamic Vinegar of Modena
Filippo Berio Balsamic Vinegar of Modena is 100% Italian. Made from specially selected grapes, its unique flavor pairs perfectly with our Extra Virgin Olive Oil for a quick, healthy and tasty salad dressing, marinade or dip.
This best balsamic vinegar has a good sharp flavour with a pleasant tangy aftertaste. It has that pungent acidic aroma that you want from vinegar.
10. Biona – Organic Balsamic Vinegar
Delicious on grilled and stir-fried vegetables. Biona Organic Balsamic Vinegar of Modena is unfiltered – any sediment which may form does not affect the quality. The best balsamic vinegar is aged in oak casks.
How To Choose Your Best Balsamic Vinegar?
Best balsamic vinegars can differ greatly depending on how they are processed and aged and the quality of the ingredients used. Read on for the things to look out for when buying a bottle of the good stuff.
Get Familiar With The Grading System
From the traditional balsamic to condiment and commercial grade options, prices and quality level can vary quite a lot. Here we explain these three general grades so you can decide which works best for your purpose and budget.
Traditional Balsamic Vinegar Is The Highest Grade Available
Labelled as either Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia or Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena, traditional balsamic vinegar has to be from either the regions of Modena or Reggio Emilia to carry this name. The real thing carries the name of one of the two regions and the D.O.C (Denominazione di Origine Protetta) designation, much like a fine wine.
Certification and the proper manufacturing process is extremely strict; only Trebbiano or Lambrusco grapes can be used. The vinegar is made by boiling grape juice and moving it into increasingly smaller casks year by year, made from different kinds of wood, including oak, cherry and chestnut, in which it is aged for 10 to 25 years.
There are only several dozen producers authorised to carry the label, all within an 80-kilometre zone around Modena. Due to these stringent production methods, traditional balsamic vinegar is usually used for a special occasion and buying a bottle can be rather expensive.
Condiment Grade Balsamic Vinegar Is The Next Best Thing, and More Reasonably Priced
This label is given to a range of products that don’t quite meet the extremely strict requirements to be considered a traditional balsamic vinegar, but that still have a lot of time and care taken in their production.
Vinegar which is made using the same technique as a traditional balsamic vinegar, but produced outside of that specific region may be considered to be condiment grade. As are vinegars that are made by the traditional standards and within the designated regions of Italy, but are aged for fewer than 12 years.
Condiment grade balsamic vinegars can also be called “Balsamic Vinegar of Modena I.G.P” or “condimento balsamic” amongst other things. They carry a similar depth and flavour with a much more reasonable price tag for daily to day use.
Commercial Grade Balsamic Is The Most Widely Available
Commercial-grade balsamic vinegars are mass-produced and therefore widely available in supermarkets and in online stores. Made from wine vinegar, they often have added thickeners, caramel colouring, and flavouring, and are aged for a minimum amount of time if at all.
These best balsamic vinegars may be labelled as “Balsamic Vinegar of Modena” if they are produced in that region, but vinegar made in other regions, or even countries cannot carry the Modena name.
Commercial-grade balsamic has a uniquely sweet and sour flavour of its own, and its slightly thinner texture makes it versatile for use in a variety of salad dressings, marinades and soups. Its cheaper price and availability makes it very accessible, and great for daily use.
Good Quality Balsamic Will Be Aged and Made With Grape Must
At its very best, and especially if it is a traditional balsamic vinegar, it will only be made from grape must, which is boiled grape juice. However there are many exquisite balsamics out there which are made from a combination of grape must and wine vinegar, but generally speaking, the higher the percentage of grape must, the higher the quality.
The longer the balsamic vinegar is aged for in barrels, the best balsamic vinegar. During this process it acquires flavours from the wood, mellowing its acidity. Being porous, the wood takes in the vinegars moisture over time, making it more concentrated.
The Bottle Shape and Seal Shows Authenticity of Traditional Balsamic Vinegar
If a traditional balsamic vinegar is what you are going for, there are some signs of authenticity to look out for before you take the plunge. Sold in wax-sealed bottles with unique identifying numbers, traditional balsamic from Modena is only sold in bulb-shaped 100ml bottles, and that from Reggio Emilia is only sold in 100ml bottles shaped like inverted tulips.
In the Reggio Emilia region, traditional balsamic vinegars of around a 12-year vintage are graded affinato (fine), with a red cap, 15-20 year vintage are graded vecchio (old), with a silver cap, or extra vecchio (extra old), with a gold cap, corresponding to a 20-25 year vintage. In Modena, the system consists of just affinato with a white cap, or extra vecchio with a gold cap.
Now you are armed with our indispensable buying guide and recommendations, you can go ahead and get yourself a best balsamic vinegar. Whether it’s for salads, dressings, main courses or even desserts, we’ve got you covered!