History of Balsamic

Since ages, Balsamic Vinegar means culture and history of Modena. Its existence is due to the particular land and climate characteristics of the country and moreover to the knowledge, the expertise and the competencies of the human factor that in a wonderful synthesis have originated an exclusive and specific product of the actual provinces of Modena and Reggio Emilia (the ancient Estense Dukedom).

Documents and historical traces are very frequent and it is dazzling how much important these products had in local uses and in the folk tradition of Modena.

We speak of “Balsamic” because it is self-evident and also documented, that different kinds of vinegar obtained with cooked grapes must have always been present in Modena and Reggio Emilia, trough the presence of different recipes and of different production methods and ageing, up to the present two different kinds: Balsamic Vinegar of Modena and Traditional Balsamic Vinegars of Modena and Reggio Emilia. The origins of these products are of many centuries ago when the grape must was cooked in order to store it.

The special characteristics of the used grapes (low sugars and high acidity) are supposed to have acidified and sparkled the origins to a vinegar that because of its method of production has been furthermore exported out of its main production area.

The techniques of this “special vinegar” were probably many and different as we can see from the local recipes from many times: we can indeed find products done just with cooked must, others with must and vinegar and after cooked, and sometimes also spiced with aromas. The term Balsamic is quite young, used for the first time in the registers of dukes’ warehouses of the Estense’s Palace of Modena in 1747 and the name was probably related to the health role that it had at that time.

The existence of at least two different kinds of Balsamic Vinegar is documented in the arrival of Napoleon in Modena in 1795.

To pay the war debts, all the Duke’s and Church’s goods were put on sale. One of the listed items is indeed the vinegar house, which is described in details the different qualities of vinegar (common, half-Balsamico and Balsamico).

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