Balsamic vinegar is a condiment whose origins are deeply rooted in Italian history. The oldest known mention of the production of balsamic vinegar was found in a document from the year 1046. Since the Middle Ages, it has been a staple product for the wealthy families of the Italian cities Reggio Emilia and Modena. These cities continue to be the primary source worldwide for true traditional balsamic vinegar.
The name “balsamic” is derived from the Latin word “balsamum” or the Greek work “balsamon,” meaning “balsam-like,” indicating its curing or restorative properties. The name continues to be an important part of the product.
The highly prized product was used by the House of Este in Renaissance times. Derived from Lambrusco or Trebbiano grapes, traditional balsamic vinegar is still made the same way it was then, in a cherished tradition of quality and cultural history. 30 years ago, this precious condiment was barely known of outside of Modena and Reggio Emilia, as wealthy families in both areas made the product and kept it within the family, or gave it occasionally as special gifts.
Today, it is used in a variety of recipes worldwide as gourmet food-lovers and top chefs in numerous countries enjoy the sweet, woody, and tangy taste of traditional balsamic vinegar in its classic form and flavor. Sadly, most of the world has never had the genuine product, as the watered down commercial version, made without fermentation and with thickeners and imitation flavors, is by far the most affordable and prolific condiment that even comes close.