We had an opportunity recently to get a short lesson on Aceto Balsamico di Modena (Balsamic Vinegar of Modena) from Charles (Charlie) Augello, owner of the E 48th Street Market in the Atlanta suburb of Dunwoody, Georgia. The occasion arose due to our curiosity, which was heightened on a recent trip to Italy where we had experienced a much sweeter version of Aceto on one evening than we had enjoyed previously.
We thought, incorrectly, that the sweeter version might have been one of the more expensive Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale versions, which is aged much longer than the regular Aceto and can reach the higher climes of price. We arrived in fear that we might have to shell out $75.00 or more just to replicate the taste!
However, Charlie explained that Aceto is created in much the same way as wines. Many variables go into each individual recipe, including the types of grapes, the blends and even the soil where the grapes are grown. Some producers simply choose to allow the process to generate more sugar, thus sweetening the taste of the Aceto. In fact, there are other versions of balsamic vinegar, for example, those blended with tartufo (truffles) and Saba, which is similar to balsamico but actually, a grape must reduction with a very pleasant taste and much more toward the sweet side. We know this because Charlie allowed us to taste some of these in his shop.
After our tasting session, we chose a Saba, which very much suited our taste. And since we were there, we decided to purchase some Vin Santo, a traditional sweet Tuscan wine often enjoyed with almond biscotti. (And we will!) We’ve said previously that a good local Italian grocery can do wonders for your enjoyment of Italian food at home. We are fortunate to have such a great resource close by!