The 10 Best Balsamic Vinegars

Updated June 03, 2018 by Christopher Thomas

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We spent 45 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Balsamic vinegar comes from fermented grapes and adds acidity and seasoning to both cooked and raw foods. For centuries, people have enjoyed its balance of sometimes unexpected flavors. Just like wine, every batch is different and it gets better with age. If you've never tried it straight as an aperitif before, now might be the time. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best balsamic vinegar on Amazon.

10. Giusti Infused 3-Pack

The Giusti Infused 3-Pack is the perfect companion to foie gras and salmon crudo. The selected varieties are infused with the essences of black truffle, raspberry, and fig, resulting in a set of specialty condiments that will impress anyone's palate.
  • delicious on sweet or savory dishes
  • made in the city of modena
  • bottles are relatively small
Brand Giuseppe Giusti
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

9. Mussini Il Grande Vecchio

The limited-edition Mussini Il Grande Vecchio is a mesmerizing blend of natural acid, earthy sweetness, and complex, fermented compounds. It comes in a very tiny bottle, but just a few drops of this powerful substance go a long way.
  • perfect post-meal palate cleanser
  • includes certificate of authenticity
  • extremely expensive
Brand Mussini
Model M1940-1
Weight 12.8 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

8. Giusti Award-Winning Combo

The Giusti Award-Winning Combo will delight the taste buds of even the most critical gourmet. It consists of three small bottles of highly-refined special recipes, each older and more full-flavored than the last. They're some of the company's finest offerings.
  • adheres to igp standards
  • over 400 years of balsamic expertise
  • intricacies get lost in vinaigrettes
Brand Giuseppe Giusti
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

7. Villa Manodori

Villa Manodori is a reasonably priced introduction to high-end vinegar. It has a particularly smooth consistency and pairs well with dairy. It was created by the head chef at Osteria Francescana, one of the top restaurants in the world.
  • aged a minimum of 10 years
  • ideal for drizzling on desserts
  • thicker than a lot of other options
Brand Villa Manodori
Model pending
Weight 1.3 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

6. Cavalli of Reggio Emilia

The family behind the Cavalli of Reggio Emilia has been officially certifying balsamic in the region for generations, and their experience shows. Barrel-aged for over 75 years, this delicacy is older than most people who taste it.
  • dop certification of highest quality
  • a few drops will excite your tongue
  • worth the high price for gourmets
Brand Cavalli
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

5. MiaBella Traditional

MiaBella Traditional is an all-purpose option that brings a tart, Italian bite to any dish. It's not as thick or complex as more expensive brands, but it carries a robust tang and a touch of umami. It's great in vinaigrettes or splashed directly on top of bitter greens.
  • less than 5-percent acidity
  • won't take over delicate dishes
  • adds depth and balance to raw salads
Brand MiaBella
Model MB1
Weight 1.3 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

4. Malpighi's Balsamo di Tartufo

Malpighi's Balsamo di Tartufo blends some of Italy's most prized culinary elements, resulting in a truly sublime mix of flavors. The traditional but light blend of grape flesh and white wine vinegar that forms this blonde condimento lets the white truffle shine brightly.
  • subtle and luxurious aromas
  • amazing in beurre blanc sauce
  • truffle can overpower some foods
Brand Balsamo of white truffl
Model pending
Weight 14.1 ounces
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

3. Acetaia Leonardi Saba

You may just find a bottle of Acetaia Leonardi Saba in the back of your favorite high-end restaurant. This vintage variety closely resembles some of the earliest, most viscous recipes. Today saba is used interchangeably with its slightly more tart relative.
  • concentrated flavor covers acidity
  • as thick as maple syrup
  • impressively sweet aftertaste
Brand Acetaia Leonardi Saba
Model pending
Weight 1.4 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

2. La Vecchia Dispensa 40-Year

La Vecchia Dispensa 40-Year is as intricate as a bottle of fine wine. It opens with dark notes of wood and earth alongside a mild touch of acidity. It has a pleasantly light and fruity body that gives way to a nutty and sour finish.
  • great price for such a fine product
  • crafted in castelvetro di modena
  • a next-level addition to game meats
Brand La Vecchia Dispensa 40-
Model pending
Weight 2 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

1. Malpighi Saporoso Riserva

The eight-year-old Malpighi Saporoso Riserva is especially popular among home chefs. Skilled tasters will pick up notes of grass and wildflowers through the somewhat prominent tartness of this balanced, all-purpose ingredient.
  • fourth-generation family-owned biz
  • synthetic stopper extends shelf life
  • gourmet quality at a decent price
Brand Acetaia Malpighi
Model pending
Weight 1.4 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

How Balsamic Vinegar Is Made

Similar to champagne, which can only be produced in the Champagne region of France, true balsamic vinegar can only be produced in a particular geographic location, this being the Modena and Reggio regions of Italy.

The first known reference to balsamic vinegar comes from 1046, when Emperor Enrico III was given a bottle as a gift. During the Middle Ages, it was considered a cure all and used for everything from labor pains to sore throats.

Unlike many other vinegars, balsamic is not made from wine. Instead, it is an aged reduction made from three particular grape varieties: Lamrusco, Trebbiano, and Spergola. These grapes are pressed and slowly boiled down in a large copper kettle until the water content is reduced by 50% or more. This results in a must, which is then placed into wooden barrels to age. Some already aged balsamic vinegar is also added to assist in acetification.

The only woods approved for aging balsamic vinegar are oak, chestnut, juniper, ash, cherry, mulberry, and a cacia. Each year, as the must in the barrels evaporates, it is transferred into smaller barrels, each of these is made from one of the different woods listed above. This allows them to pick up different flavor nuances from each type of wood during the process. When the balsamic vinegar is sold, it is divided into three different age categories; young is from 3 to 5 years, middle-aged is from 6 to 12 years, and old is from 12+ years. Some of the most expensive balsamic vinegars can be over 100 years old.

Health Benefits Of Balsamic Vinegar

Balsamic vinegar offers a range of health benefits that cannot be found in many other commonly used vinegars. These many health benefits are most likely what led to its reputation as a cure all in the middle ages. Those with high blood pressure will be happy to learn that balsamic vinegar can help to lower and stabilize blood pressure.

It reduces atherosclerosis, which is a hardening of the arteries that is commonly responsible for high blood pressure. Researchers have found that animals who consumed vinegar regularly had lower systolic blood pressure levels. Balsamic vinegar also contains a high amount of antioxidants, which can help repair damaged caused by free radicals in cells and protect the body from cancer and heart disease.

In addition to stabilizing blood pressure, balsamic vinegar can stabilize cholesterol by limiting the ability of harmful LDL cholesterol to oxidize, reducing the damage it can do. Balsamic vinegar is also low on the glycemic index, which is a scale for the effect of food on blood sugar levels. Foods with a low glycemic index don't cause spikes in blood sugar, making them safe for diabetics, and healthy for everybody.

The iron, potassium, calcium, and manganese in balsamic vinegar can help improve the body's ability to lose weight. This can make it especially beneficial to those on a diet who are looking to drop a few pounds. Along with improving the body's ability to lose weight, it can help digestion. Vinegar boosts pepsin activity, which is the enzyme that breaks down protein into amino acids so it can be more easily absorbed by the body.

How To Choose A Balsamic Vinegar

True balsamic vinegar is expensive, but those who have had it before know that it is worth every penny. All high quality balsamic vinegar will be labeled as either "Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia" or "Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena". This translates to traditional balsamic vinegar of Reggio Emilia and traditional balsamic vinegar of Modena, respectively.

If they have one of the these, labels than you can be assured they were produced to the exacting standards mentioned above. You should also look for the Denominazione di orgine controllata (DOC) number and seal, which indicates that it is approved by the Consorzio Aceto Balsamico di Modena (Consortium of Balsamic Vinegar of Modena.)

Some great balsamic vinegar manufacturers sell their product without the DOC label, which means that one should also double check the ingredient list before writing off a particular brand. When examining the ingredient label, one should see the must of grapes as the first ingredient, not vinegar as one might expect. Good quality balsamic vinegar will also not have any caramel or flavorings of any kind added. Also look for a notation somewhere on the bottle that specifics the vinegar in questions has been "aged in wooden barrels", not just "aged in wood." Lower quality manufacturers often just add wood chips to their vinegar so they can put "aged in wood" on their bottles.

Don't be mislead by lower quality balsamic vinegar labeled as "Aceto Balsamico di Modena" or "Balsamic Vinegar of Modena". Unless it has the word tradizionale or traditional, it is an imitation balsamic vinegar that is made from vinegar and not grape must. It is important to look for every indication of a true balsamic vinegar as manufacturers go to great lengths to trick consumers into buying lower quality imitations. For example, some make a balsamic vinegar that is actually a combination of red wine vinegar and grape must from traditional balsamic vinegar. This may allow them to get away with using grape must as the first ingredient on the label, but they usually aren't aged and won't have the complexity of true balsamic vinegar.

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Last updated on June 03, 2018 by Christopher Thomas

A traveling chef, musician, and student of the English language, Chris can be found promoting facts and perfect copy around the globe, from dense urban centers to remote mountaintops. In his free time he revels in dispelling pseudoscience, while at night he dreams of modern technology, world peace, and the Oxford comma.

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