It is a star in the firmament of typical Italian products. It originates from the ancient tradition, which dates back to the time of the Roman Empire, of cooking the grape must to concentrate it and obtain a thick and sweet condiment.
However, Columella, a scholar of agriculture, already testified in the 1st century AD that the cooked must (sapa) produced in today's provinces of Modena and Reggio Emilia, easily became acidic (solet acescere …). The sweet and sour product that was obtained was evidently very popular, if it has survived to this day.
Even today it is produced starting exclusively from cooked must and following ancient and laborious customs. Over the centuries, in fact, a complicated and very slow production process has developed in rich and aristocratic families which still takes place today in series of barrels with decreasing volume (called "batteria") and which leads to a product of extremely great organoleptic complexity.
The must of the typical grapes produced in the province is cooked over a direct flame in open-air boilers. Left to ferment, it is then placed in the "batteria" often made up of barrels of different woods. Thus begins the production process which only after at least 12 years of activity will supply a small annual rate of Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena PDO. Only after 25 years will it reach such a quality that it can be called "Extravecchio". Each year the barrels are brought back to level (“annual reinforcements” which compensate for evaporation losses) each with vinegar from the previous barrel and only the last barrel, the largest, is topped up with cooked must. When the product is ready, it is examined by a panel of expert tasters and, if approved, it is bottled in the typical bottle, created by the designer Giugiaro, the only guarantee of originality and quality.
Try it with a few drops on salads, grilled fish and meat, but also on ice cream or Parmigiano Reggiano: you will discover a new universe of aromas and flavors and, with them, true emotions.