Among fruit vinegars made from grapes, a balsamic vinegar is an essential seasoning for Italian cuisine. In the city of Modena in northern Italy, it has been used as an anti-fatigue and digestive medicine among nobility and emperors since the Middle Ages. The reason why Modena is said to be the birthplace of balsamic vinegar is because the regionʼs soil, topography and climatic conditions are ideal for grapes (varieties: Lambrusco, Torrebiano, Ancerotta) and the annual temperature in Modena is ideal for aging balsamic vinegar.
In this article, I will refer to balsamic vinegar in Modena as “traditional” balsamic vinegar, distinguishing it from ordinary balsamic vinegar. The difference is in its production method. Ordinary balsamic vinegar that you usually see at supermarkets is made by adding wine vinegar*, coloring, flavoring, caramel, etc, after having fermented it with acetic acid in wooden barrels for 3 to 4 years. “Traditional” balsamic vinegar does not have added ingredients, and is produced by aging in wooden barrels for over 10 years.
The “Acetair Sereni” brewery produces balsamic vinegar in this way. In order to get to the distillery, one has to go up and down the many hills scattered around the base of the Apennine Mountains, as if sewing them together. I visited the brewery around October, just when the vineyards were beginning to change color with the autumn leaves.