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While most vinegars are traditionally made from wine, balsamic vinegar
is derived from cooked Trebbiano grape must (unfermented grape juice).
The must is aged over a number of years (up to 25 years in some cases)
in a series of wooden casks. Woods such as oak, chestnut, mulberry,
cherry, ash, and juniper are used, each giving the vinegar its own
distinctive aroma and taste. According to www.colavita.com,
distributors of authentic Italian foods, the finished product is
described as ?a fluid and syrup-like consistency?
(http://www.colavita.com/vinegar2.htm). They go on to say:
?The commercial type balsamic vinegar which you see on the supermarket
shelves is made from a wine vinegar into which aged balsamic vinegar
must has been added. The addition and amount of must added to the red
wine vinegar determines the quality of the commercial type balsamic
For a detailed description of producing balsamic vinegar, read further
on this interesting website: http://www.colavita.com/vinegar2.htm
The Vinegar Institute also has interesting information on the
production and quality of balsamic vinegar, as well as information
about vinegar in general.
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IS THERE ALCOHOL IN THERE?
There are no set criteria for alcohol content in vinegars and there
are a variety of balsamic vinegars available, both with and without
alcohol. Although, according to an Italian culinary site located at
http://appenninogoloso.it/index.asp (English language site:
http://appenninogoloso.it/UK/), ?the process of maturation lasts for
at least 10 years; the product has an alcohol content of at least 6%.?
Here is a listing that contains a number of aged balsamic vinegars for
sale, at least one of which is labeled as ?alcohol free.?
Here are links to two specific balsamic vinegars available online with
alcohol contents of 3%. One is a Spanish product and one is organic.