People who are skilled in the culinary art keep a bottle of balsamic vinegar close because they know that a few drops of this ancient Mediterranean syrup can transform the taste of their meals from bland to delicious. Officially called a grape must, chefs and households have long used balsamic vinegar to improve food taste.
If you have not tried this dark syrup in your dishes, you will surely miss a lot. If you have, then kudos to you. Knowing where and how to find original Balsamic vinegar of the highest quality is not an easy feat. This is because there are so many low-quality vinegar products out there, and many buyers cannot tell the difference between original and low-quality brands. If you face the same difficulty, you don’t have to worry because we’ve got you covered.
We know how to identify the best balsamic vinegar there are, and in this buyer review, we will be sharing with you our wealth of experience to help you make an informed choice when shopping online for one. Balsamic vinegar traditionally originates from Italy in Modena and Reggio Emilia, to be precise, and they are considered by many to be the best balsamic vinegar variants in the world. Some of the balsamic vinegar we will be reviewing below come from these parts of Italy.
Best Balsamic Vinegars
|1. Calivirgin Balsamic Vinegar||99%|
|2. Giuseppe Giusti Desposito Balsamic Vinegar||96%|
|3. Ellora Farms Balsamic Vinegar||92%|
|4. Blazing Bella||89%|
|5. Ritrovo Balsamic Vinegar||85%|
Want to learn more?
Here is a list of what we consider to be some of the best balsamic vinegar for your cupboard in 2021.
When searching for good quality balsamic vinegar to make our list, one of the first brands to catch our attention was Calivirgin. This 250ml bottle of authentic balsamic vinegar is sourced from the finest of Trebbiano grapes in Moderna, Italy. Kept in a barrel for 18 years and mixed the old-fashioned way to maximize its flavor, you get what you pay for should you order Calivirgin.
We understand your concern shared by many that the vinegar you purchase might be adulterated mixtures of sugar and other additives, but this vinegar is in a class of its own. Its 100% natural content surely strikes a balance between unmatched acidic precision and natural sweetness. All you will need is a few drops to improve the taste of your meals, and your family will love you for it.
With over 350 local and international awards won so far, Calivirgin occupies a prominent position only very few brands can match for quality and reputation. What we found worthy of mention is the way Calivirgin has been improved with a perfect blend of rich flavors, great consistency, and thick and creamy textures.
This vinegar will work with any meal of your choice, but we highly recommend it for barbecue, marinated fish, and grilled veggies.
Why do we like it?
- A few drops are enough due to its thick, creamy mixture
- Amazing taste to spruce up your meals
- Multi-purpose vinegar for homes and restaurants
Giuseppe Giusti Despisito has long been regarded as one of Italy’s best balsamic vinegar. People who rank it as one of the top five best vinegar money can buy have a point. Produced the traditional way, Giuseppe Giusti is so good; its price looks like a steal.
Preserved hygienically, the aroma alone is enough to awaken your taste buds. Giusti is stored in wooden barrels for 12 years before it is finally bottled and sold to the public. Experienced balsamic creators will tell you that the longer the syrup stays in the barrels, the better the taste, and they are right.
Spending a long time in the barrel improves the taste of the syrup. The wood also transforms the taste significantly, hence the dynamic flavors you get when you use Giusti for your cooking. One final step taken before bottling Giuseppe Giusti is the tasting phase, where tasters judge its quality before giving every syrup batch a pass.
So you see, investing in a bottle of this Modena delight is an act you won’t regret. As a caveat, though, use only a few drops on your tomato stews and other types of soups. As for your barbecues, a few drops is all you need.
Why do we like it?
- Represents value for money
- Packaged in an attractive bottle
- Strong flavor
- Work well for all meal types
Third, on our list of best balsamic vinegar to consider is Ellora Farms balsamic vinegar. As the name suggests, this vinegar is used to drench your veggies and salads lightly. It is created from red grapes, Ellora originates from Crete’s island, which is home to some of the tastiest grapes ever grown.
This vinegar of premium quality is a perfect blend of sweet and also sour flavors balanced to perfection to compliment all food types. If you are a vegetarian or you love to munch on a bowl of salad once in a while, this vinegar is just the one for you.
Produced from grape must and grown in vineyards that are centuries old, Ellora Farm’s balsamic vinegar is 100% natural. It does not contain Caramel, Sugar, Coloring, or Preservatives. Another fantastic feature of this brand that sets it apart from the others is its calorie content.
It contains low-fat elements that aid digestion, weight loss and improves your heart. The glycemic nutrients found in this vinegar is also ideal for people with a high risk of diabetes or those who already suffer from mild or chronic diabetes.
Why do we like it?
- Worth every penny and every drop
- Compliments all food types
- Improves blood circulation and skin health
- Contains anti-oxidants for the elimination of harmful body toxins
Developing your culinary skills is not such a bad idea, but you can improve the taste of your food if you know the right ingredients to use. This is what balsamic vinegar does. It improves not only the taste but the color of your food. Blazing Bella is a perfect example of balsamic vinegar that does all three. It transforms taste, improves color, and nourishes your body at the same time.
Of all the brands on our list, Blazing Bella is the only handcrafted vinegar brand, and we picked it for a reason. For its texture and rich quality. Blazing Bella can be used for different types of salads, Desserts, Entrees, roasted veggies, meat, and appetizer.
The last thing you want is to purchase a product that is limited to just a few menus, isn’t it?. However, this product has got you covered because it gives you options regarding the type of foods you can use it for.
Blazing Bella is a flavored vinegar sourced from Modena fig trees. Flavored vinegar has become popular among chefs because it has a sweet taste that does not change the taste of your food. Rather, it improves it.
For your chicken ribs and salads, brush them with some drops of Blazing Bella before placing them on your grill. A taste afterward is all the convincing you will ever need of Blazing Bella’s quality.
Why do we like it?
- Does not clash with the natural taste of your food
- An economical choice
- Multi-Purpose vinegar
- Perfect for grilled peaches and strawberry
If you do a quick search on Amazon, you will notice that Ritrovo is one of the most searched balsamic vinegar brands and one of Amazon’s bestsellers. There is a reason why many have come to trust Ritrovo. Their products are rich and unadulterated. Cultured in sealed barrels for 7-25 years, the grapes go through a regulated process of evaporation.
At the end of the storage period, the final result is a richer and thicker balsamic syrup suited for your food. Ritrovo is not all grapes, though. It contains a dose of mild olive oil to lighten the texture a bit. This is why chefs widely use it in combination with Salumi and cheese as both an appetizer and a taste improver.
Ritrovo is packed in a 250ml bottle with an airtight cover to keep its content safe. Besides the use of Ritrovo as an appetizer, it works well on spinach and radish greens.
Ritrovo might be a little pricey, but the quality of its content is worth every penny.
Why do we like it?
- A great product for vegetarians
- Gives your meals a uniform color
- High-quality taste upgrade
- Quality doesn’t diminish when exposed to heat
Balsamic Vinegar Buyer’s Guide
Shopping for Balsamic vinegar for your cooking comes with its own risk. Risks are further inflated due to the high number of adulterated vinegar sold in stores and online. Some vinegar is priced cheaply but tastes better than some others sold at steep prices are vice versa.
In a bid to make a quick profit, many sellers mix their products with foreign additives that reduce quality, and unless you have a trained eye, you may pass off a low-quality product as premium balsamic vinegar.
Bearing these risks in mind, how do you spot premium balsamic vinegar? How do you know that what you are paying for represents value for money? What are the signs to look out for?
Read The Label
Just like with all products, particularly liquid products, labeling is essential. When assessing quality, the first thing you ought to do is to read the product description and features if you are shopping online or reading the label if you are doing a physical examination.
If you notice red wine as part of the ingredients, this is a red flag. Red wine products are more acidic and have a lighter texture. The primary ingredient found in all high-quality vinegar is what is called “grape must.” Grape must is a fresh grape liquid mixed with grape seeds, stem, and skin.
Another sign you will notice in low-quality balsamic vinegar products are Caramel colorings. Dishonest producers use caramel to mask the inferior ingredients their product contains to pass it off as high-quality vinegar, of which it is not.
In a nutshell, any product that contains 20% cooked grape, 78% red wine vinegar, and 2% caramel coloring is a perfect example of a low-quality balsamic vinegar.
Know your source
Another tip to help you avoid low-quality vinegar is to buy from only reputable sellers. Finding reputable sellers can be a challenging task, but reading reviews such as this one and reviews posted on Amazon by previous buyers of a particular product will help you identify good balsamic vinegar brands. Buying from highly rated suppliers is one sure way to buy original balsamic vinegar.
Check the aging technique
Producers of good balsamic vinegar are not ashamed to reveal the aging technique they use to the public. Any product that does not have this information should be scrutinized properly, like fine wine; the older the vinegar, the better the taste.
The difference between, let’s say, a 5-year old vinegar and a 25-year-old vinegar is the flavor and viscosity. As the vinegar ages, it dries up and slightly solidifies. Not only that, the wooden barrels in which they are preserved gives the syrup a unique flavor as well.
Next time you shop for balsamic vinegar, read the seller’s information, and pay attention to the aging process. The longer the process, the better.
Although not in all cases, many of the balsamic vinegar sold worldwide are sourced from grapes grown in Emilia Reggia and Modena regions in Italy. The Greek island of Crete is also home to some of the best grapes in the world. Balsamic vinegar, particularly from Italy, is the gold standard when it comes to quality.
Check the Stamp
Another easy method you can use to spot high-quality balsamic vinegar products is to look for the D.O.P stamp with the words “Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale.” According to Italian law, all balsamic vinegar produced in the country must carry this authentication label and spend as much as 12 years in barrels before being sold to the public.
This is why products from the Modena and Emilia Reggio regions of the country are highly rated.