As we've discussed in other posts, vinegar has been around for a long time, approximately 5000 years. However, balsamic vinegar has been around for about 1000 years and originates in Italy. Grapes (usually white grapes) are crushed and turned into grape must. The must is cooked over a flame until it becomes a thick syrup. The mix is fermented until the sugars turn to alcohol. The alcohol then is fermented and turned into acetic acid in the second step of the chemical process. Finally, the mixture is aged in barrels, just like wine.
The aging process defines balsamic vinegar. Over 12 years and it is considered a true balsamic. Just below 12 years and it is considered a condimento! Both offer great health benefits and flavors. Balsamic that is aged at 12 years is called Affinato (fine) and may be labeled with a red cap. Balsamic aged 15 to 20 years is called vecchio (old) and may be labeled with a silver cap. Finally, balsamic aged 20 to 25 years is called extra vecchio (extra old) and may be labeled with a gold cap. This aging and naming system follows the Traditional Italian Method. Olivezia's balsamic vinegars follow the Solera Method.
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