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How to taste Traditional Balsamic Vinegar from Modena

How to taste Traditional Balsamic Vinegar from Modena


Learn the tricks for tasting and recongnizing the positive and negative attributes of one of the most prized Italian products.

To properly taste Traditional Balsamic Vinegar from Modena, you will need a small glass, preferably a wine glass, porcelain or silver spoon and a candle.

Visual analysis

- Pour 1-2 tbsp of vinegar into the glass and gently swirl the vinegar in order to coat the sides of the glass.
- Next, evaluate the color and clarity of the vinegar, which can best be judged by candlelight. To calculate the density, look at the thickness of the layer of vinegar that remains on the glass and the time it takes for it to dissolve.

Aroma analysis

- Cover the glass of balsamic vinegar with one hand and warm the bottom of the glass with your other hand.
- Uncover the glass and bring raise it to your nose. Inhale the aromas 3 separate times, with pauses in between to keep olfactory sensory neurons alert.
- Memorize the aromas you experienced during the quick inhalations.
- The characteristics to evaluate are the aromas and the acidity level. Consider whether they are characteristic of the product, their intensity and their persistency.

Flavor analysis

Flavor is the most significant element in the evaluation of balsamic vinegar.  The flavor should correspond directly to the aromatic qualities of the vinegar.

- To analysis the flavor, place a small amount (8-10 drops) of vinegar in your mouth.
- Press your tongue against the roof of your mouth and inhale, allowing the aromas to expand in your mouth and nasal cavity. The aromas should be distinctly separate.
- The vinegar should cover your whole mouth and in particular your entire tongue, from the tip back, including the sides.
- At this point, it is fundamental that you remember the flavors and the order in which you experience them.

A tasting chart has been created to classify traditional balsamic vinegar and judge a sample according to established criteria.

Positive Attributes of Traditional Balsamic Vinegar from Modena

Color: dark brown, rich and glossy.
Density: slightly syrupy.
Aroma: characteristic "bouquet," fragrant, complex but well balanced, penetrating and persistent, evident, but pleasing acidity.
Flavor: herbaceous, sweet and sour, well-balanced with noticeable acidity and aromatic notes reminiscent of the various wood - casks, or vaselli, used to age the vinegar. Lively, direct, full-flavored, velvety, intense, persistent, and in keeping with its aromatic profile.

Defects of Traditional Balsamic Vinegar from Modena

Color variations: iron “casse” and oxidation are defects attributed the wine used to produce the vinegar.
Aromas of rancidity or mold: come from the containers in which the vinegar is made and inappropriate storage.

Naturally occurring alterations of the vinegar can be caused by hyper-oxidizing acetic bacteria that weaken the vinegar due to the oxidation of the acetic acid, carbon dioxide and water.

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