Those of you who have incorporated balsamic vinegar into your cooking will undoubtedly understand just how flavorful and aromatic this vinegar can be. Although it was originally made for cooking, balsamic vinegar has evolved quite a lot over time. These days, this versatile vinegar can be used for conservation, dressing, marinades, and pickling. As such, it is one of the most practical types of vinegar you can use, the type that will more or less meet anyone’s cooking needs.
Having said that, we should point out that not all balsamic vinegars are made to meet the same standards of taste and flavor. In fact, the good ones are thoroughly aged and properly stored in special recipients to enhance their aromatic reach. As for the ones you find on the market, let us just say that you should probably take the time to learn as much as you can about the subject before committing on a purchase. To help you through, we put together a list of the ten best balsamic vinegars money can buy.
Best Balsamic Vinegars – Reviews
10Summer Peach White Balsamic
Including the infusion of natural organic extracts of peach, the Summer Peach White Balsamic is a premium quality vinegar that features a smooth, rich and well-balanced flavor and texture. Great for salads, greens, sauces and more, it delivers a unique taste that will leave your mouth watering. For best results, this balsamic vinegar should be paired with roasted walnut oil to bring out its rich and velvety delicious flavor. Then again, you can expect all exquisite balsamic vinegars to meet similar standards provided that you use them in the right culinary context.
9VSOP Traditional 18yr Aged Dark Balsamic Vinegar
The VSOP Traditional 18yr Aged Dark Balsamic Vinegar comes from a battery of 7 different barrels including chestnut, cherry, juniper, oak, mulberry, acacia and ash. Crafted with 4% acidity, this balsamic vinegar features a rich, aromatic and complex flavor that is layered and dark. Free from sugars, added colors and thickeners, this classic Italian product will enhance and balance out any dish, while heightening your taste buds. Thanks to its velvety, well balanced and smooth finish, this vinegar is perfect for salads, glazes, sauces and more. Given its versatility, you can also use it for basic cooking purposes.
8Bistro Blends Fig Balsamic Vinegar
Uniquely blended with a puree of high-quality black mission figs, Barrel-Aged Gourmet Balsamic Vinegar and a hint of vanilla extract, the Bistro Blends Fig Balsamic Vinegar is known for its richness, balance, and taste. Great for using in salads, toppings, sauces, and glazes, this balsamic vinegar can also be used as a dipping oil for bread. Unlike any other, this product can also be drizzled over your favorite ice cream, giving you an exciting, rich and velvety flavor that would leave your taste buds tingling. Free from gluten and fat, it can also be paired with tomatoes, feta cheese, and avocados.
7La Vecchia Dispensa Balsamic Vinegar
Progressed and matured from over 10-year-old barrels, the La Vecchia Dispensa Balsamic Vinegar is a high-quality product that has been brought down by the famous Pelloni Family of La Vecchia Dispensa. Featuring a unique sweet and sour taste, this vinegar leaves you with a dry, slow finish that is not only delicious but will leave you wanting more. Thanks to its unique blend of ingredients, it is great for use in a variety of recipes like salads, glazes, and more. Crafted with the perfect balance of acidity and sweetness, this product is known for its versatility and taste.
6Fiore Dark Chocolate Balsamic
Uniquely crafted from the extracts of 3 different dark chocolate cocoas, the Fiore Dark Chocolate Balsamic is infused with premium grade ingredients to give you the rich, well-balanced product that it is popularly known for. Thanks to its deep, rich and dark flavor, this vinegar can be used in salads, to enhance the flavor of desserts or can be drizzled on your favorite fruit. Including a unique blend of Trebbiano grape and red wine vinegar mixed with cacao, this vinegar is all-natural, delicious, and fat-free. As such, it is perhaps one of the most flavorful types of vinegar out there.
5Fondo di Trebbiano White Balsamic
Featuring a strong acidic flavor with a blend of sweetness and hints of smoke and vanilla extracts, the Fondo di Trebbiano White Balsamic is a premium grade vinegar that is imported from Italy. Uniquely blended with all-natural, premium-grade ingredients, this product adds flavor, depth, and richness to any roasted protein or vegetable dish. It can also be used to add a zesty deliciousness to a fruit salad or a green salad. Crafted from fresh-pressed Trebbiano grape juice, it is strained to remove the seeds and skin, leaving you with a dark, rich vinegar that is aged for up to 4 years in small oak barrels.
4MustMat Balsamic Vinegar
Perfect for a salad topping, glazing, dips, and marinades, the MustMat Balsamic Vinegar is an imported premium grade product that is crafted from the finest ingredients of the Napa Valley. Blended with black mission figs, this vinegar is crafted to accentuate and boost the flavor of your salads, cheese and a wide range of fruits. Unlike others, this vinegar can also be used as a dipping oil for bread or as a glaze for your favorite meat. This provides you with a fair bit of versatility and comfort when putting together an exquisite or rare dish.
3Aged Italian Heirloom Balsamic Vinegar
Formulated to accentuate the taste buds and culinary senses, the Aged Italian Heirloom Balsamic Vinegar from Bistro Blends is one of the purest blends out there. Free from gluten and packed with all-natural, high-quality ingredients, this vinegar contains a slightly edgy flavor and texture and is rich and delicious. Thanks to its special flavor, this delicacy works great in enhancing the taste of sauces, salad dressings, glazes or marinades or can be used as a simple dipping oil for bread. Then again, this is the main benefit of all top-shelf balsamic vinegars not just the particularly flavorful ones.
2Black Mission Fig Aged 18 Years Italian Balsamic Vinegar
Made with premium-grade ingredients, the Black Mission Fig Aged 18 Years Italian Balsamic Vinegar is known for its thick consistency and ripe taste. Aged in 6 different types of wood, this product is overflowing with the natural flavor of figs, including its dark color, syrupy texture, and rich aroma. Free from sugars, additives, and preservatives, it is 100% all-natural and certified organic by Modena Italy. Thanks to its unique, rich flavor, balance and aroma, it is great for using on a salad, for dressing grilled proteins and vegetables, for marinades, toppings, sauces and more.
1Robert’s Infused Balsamic Vinegar
The exquisite Robert’s Infused Balsamic Vinegar is made from premium quality ingredients and Aged Fig Balsamic Vinegar from Modena. Featuring a unique, well-balanced flavor and texture, this vinegar includes a dense, yet sweet and complex fig flavor. Great for use in marinades, salad dressings, a tasty glaze for your pork chops or as a dip for cheese plates, this balsamic vinegar can be paired with any olive oil from the same brand. Given its versatility, it is without a doubt one of the best balsamic vinegars the market has to offer right now.
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Finding The Perfect Balsamic Vinegar
Delving into the world of balsamic vinegars, you will soon find out that even the low to medium range products are thoroughly aged and processed. This process is intended to thicken the vinegar over a period that can sometimes stretch out for twelve years or even more. As you would imagine, this has a tremendous effect on its overall flavor, which in turn also affects the price tag and the vinegar’s availability. With that in mind, let us find out what exactly to look for when buying a batch of balsamic vinegar.
Types Of Balsamic Vinegar
Even though most balsamic vinegars are supposed to meet roughly the same standards of flavor and aroma, some definitely stand out for their exquisite taste and thickness. In fact, balsamic vinegars can differ to some extent depending on how they are prepared and the ingredients used in their making. To put it bluntly, balsamic vinegar falls into three main categories, each with a specific purpose.
- Traditional – We refer to traditional vinegar as being the authentic balsamic vinegar that most chefs use for adding flavors to dishes. It is by far the most expensive version and it is usually aged for 12 years or more. In fact, high-end versions can even be aged for 25 years depending on the aging process and other particularities. Given its authentic taste, however, it comes as no surprise that experienced cooks prefer it over other types of vinegar.
- Commercial Grade – This is the most common type of balsamic vinegar out there, the type you are likely to find in many supermarkets around the world. It should be said that this vinegar involves a combination of wine vinegar and additives for practical reasons. As such, this type of vinegar usually involves coloring, thickeners, and even caramel added to the mixture. In this respect, it is the more inexpensive version of balsamic vinegar, the ‘entry-level’ version inexperienced cooks should start with.
- Condimento Grade – With this type of vinegar, you get the exquisite flavor of authentic balsamic vinegar without overspending in any way. We should point out that this particular vinegar incorporates a combination of traditional vinegar and mass-produced batches. Also, condimento grade balsamic vinegar is aged for less than 12 years and thus not as exquisite as authentic, traditional versions but still quite sublime in its flavor.
Consider What You Use It For
Given the versatility of balsamic vinegar, you might want to take the time and first figure out what exactly will you use it for before committing to an actual purchase. We say this because balsamic vinegar comes in different types and quantities, which means that you need to figure out if you want flavor, coalescence, or a cooking aid. Needless to say, you should probably avoid using expensive vinegar for basic cooking purposes. Not unless you are preparing an exquisite dish that demands a certain dosage of balsamic vinegar for an increase in flavor.
- Dressing – If you are using balsamic vinegar as a salad dressing, then perhaps you should opt for an exquisite, slightly pricier version. With a high-end vinegar, however, you’re gonna want the rest of the ingredients to be of a similarly high standard. One thing to remember is that quality vinegar tends to homogenize virtually any ingredients provided that they are fresh and flavorful enough on their own.
- Gourmet – When going for a gourmet dish, ou should perhaps choose a condimento grade balsamic for practical reasons. This type of vinegar is of a more syrupy consistency, thus enabling you to gel it with exquisite ingredients without the fear that it might ruin the flavor of the ingredients themselves. It is important to remember that quality balsamic vinegar is an ingredient in its own right and that it can add a lot of flavor to almost any dish.
- Topping – You can also use balsamic vinegar as a topping, mind you, provided that you use the right stuff. As such, you don’t really need any top-shelf vinegar as long as you use the right quantity and as long as you pour it over the right foods. Believe it or not but balsamic vinegar is quite delicious as an artisan ice cream topping, for dipping strawberries, and for putting together a full umami flavor.
The White Balsamic Vinegar Alternative
Although most of the balsamic vinegars you find on the market are dark in shade, there is also a growing market for white balsamic vinegar. Occasionally used in place of regular balsamic when trying to avoid any discoloration, white balsamic vinegar incorporates enough of the flavor and texture of authentic balsamic vinegar. It should be said that this type of vinegar is obtained from combining white grape must with white wine vinegar followed by a slow cooking process. Interestingly enough, white balsamic vinegar is not aged as traditional balsamic vinegars.