How To Tell if Balsamic Vinegar Is Real
Its really simple. Just look at the list of ingredients on the balsamic bottle label. There should only be one balsamic ingredient - grape must. That’s it! However, while its authentic, its also expensive. So most balsamic vinegar producers will add some wine vinegar. Some will also add caramel or brown sugar. This speeds up the process, adds volume to the balsamic vinegar (wine vinegar is a lot cheaper) and I hate to use the word “fake” but tries to convince the customer that its a real balsamic vinegar. But its not! Its just cheaper with a sweet taste. Thats why these are called “industrial” balsamics.
A real and authentic balsamic vinegar has only the grape must which is Trebbiano grapes cooked down to just the right amount of syrup. After that a little bit of older balsamic vinegar is added to it and it sits in wooden barrels anywhere from 2 years to 50 years.
The “Traditional” balsamic vinegars are classified as such after being aged in wooden barrels at least for 12 years and then they are awarded points in blind taste tastes. These balsamic vinegars are the super expensive ones. However, what most “real” producers will do is bottle some of the younger balsamic vinegars (anywhere from being cooked for 48 hours to being aged for 8 years) to give you cheaper options. These are very, very good and I love them and use them all the time. However, these balsamic vinegars still have only one ingredient - grape must (or cooked grapes).
Anyone who has other ingrdients is - well, what’s the best way to put it - taking some liberties in the interest of business and profits. That’s my opinion!