The history of Traditional Balsamic Vinegar starts with the Romans. As they had no cane sugar at that time they had to invent a way to have a natural sweetener that could last for months. To do so they used to cook grapes and to reduce them into a tick and dense liquid called Saba. Eventually they noticed that this liquid started to ferment and the taste to evolve.
Probably it is another product discovered by coincidence and derived from other necessities. We have many examples for other kind of foods. Let's think about cheese, yogurt, sourdough bread...At Caglio we call it culinary serendipities.
Traditional Balsamic Vinegar became a sophisticated and expensive dressing that was always on the tables of upper classes and aristocracies.
Usually what you can find in shops nowadays is Aceto Balsamico IGP. In the IGP range you can find cheaper and more expensive versions, with the add of Caramel (for colour and flavour) and not (at Caglio we don't supply any balsmic vinegar with Caramel). The main difference between Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale and Balsamic Vinegar IGP is that the latter is cheaper, can be made in few months (minumum ageing ordered by the Disciplinare is 60 days) and it can be industrially produced.
On the other hand we have Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale which is made only with cooked grapes (Saba) left to rest in a wooden barrel for at least 12 years. Yes, "just" 12 years.
Producing Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale of Modena DOP is a matter of temperature, climate, but above all, patience. When the Saba is cooked it is put in a wooden barrel (one of five size decreasing barrels that composes the battery) and year after year it is decanted in a smaller barrel until it reaches the smallest of the battery. After 12 years we can finally call it Traditional Balsamic Vinegar!
At the end of the maturation we have a complex and flavourful thick liquid whose complexity is made of natural chemical reactions that happen in all those years.
As for Parmigiano, Being such a delicacy it has led to many cheaper imitations around the world. Some of them have additives to fake the colour and the flavour, or thickening agents.
At Caglio we are committed to give you only Balsamic Vinegar with no other additives, not even Caramel, just cooked must, wine vinegar and time.