Vinegar That Tastes Like Wine

We walk across the farmyard, avoiding contact with the region’s national birds, peacocks, pecking in the patches of grass, and head for a two story, weather-beaten wooden barn. Here in Modena, Italy, up a staircase to the second floor of this shabby building, twenty five, fifty and one hundred year old Balsamic vinegar is being nurtured. This thick elixer will be bottled in small glass containers sculpted by an Italian artist, and sold anywhere from $100 and up to gourmets around the world. I am lucky. I get an ambrosial taste from an eye dropper. My companion does not. There’s a lot of fake “Aged Balsamic Vinegar from Modena” around. They tell me it can be made in about twelve minutes with a quick heating and chilling method. It sells for about $5-$6. Pavarotti was born in Modena, and regularly took a spoonful of Balsamico to help keep his throat in shape. The nutritionist for the Canadian Olympic team has placed a sizeable order–using it as a natural seasoning for food for her prized athletes. The vinegar passes from generation to generation, from wooden barrel to wooden barrel until it matures….Until then the family of vinegar makers usually have day jobs.

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