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PGI Balsamic vinegar of Modena: food pairings and tips
Balsamic vinegar of Modena is not a random vinegar; it is the balsamic vinegar. There are both PGI balsamic vinegar and PDO traditional balsamic vinegar of Modena - everything else doesn’t stand a chance.
First of all, the production of PGI balsamic vinegar of Modena can only take place in the provinces of Modena and Reggio Emilia. Grapes only belong to Lambrusco, Sangiovese, Trebbiano, Albana, Ancellotta, Fortana and Montuni grape varieties. Wine vinegar (10%) and varying proportions of vinegar that has aged for at least ten years are then added to the must.
Balsamic vinegar ages for at least 60 days, but it can actually go on aging for dozens of years; after three years of aging, the vinegar is called “invecchiato” (aged). This process only takes place in barrels made of the finest wood, such as chestnut, oak, durmast, juniper or mulberry wood.
All in all, it doesn’t come as a surprise that balsamic vinegar of Modena is so delicious. When traditional craft meets exceptional ingredients, the result can only be extraordinary.
Balsamic vinegar of Modena is an ambassador of Italian food around the world. It obtained the Protected Geographical Indication trademark in 2009 and is exported to 120 countries.
PGI Balsamic vinegar of Modena has a dark brown colour, which is deep, shiny and glossy.
Its scent is long lasting, slightly acetic but delicate at the same time. The finest noses will be able to detect a bouquet of wood aromas that the barrels used for aging confer to the vinegar.
The flavour is sweet and sour. Unlike wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar has a perfectly balanced flavour which is not overwhelmingly sour. The flavour is well rounded since, while the vinegar ages, some of the sugars in the must naturally caramelise, leaving a very pleasant aroma of cooked fruit.
PGI Balsamic vinegar of Modena is able to complement any dish thanks to its incredible aromatic flavour. It should always be drizzled after cooking, off the heat; never cook it to avoid altering its aroma.
Balsamic vinegar and cheese
PGI Balsamic vinegar of Modena and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese originate from the same area and share a unique bond. They both have more or less intense flavours depending on how long they have aged and they pair best, when they “have the same age”. If, for instance, we combine a balsamic vinegar that has aged for 8 years with a 12-month aged Parmigiano, the result will be out of balance. The same thing will happen if we pair a balsamic vinegar that has aged for less than a year with a cheese that has aged over 36 months.
It pairs really well with cow’s-milk ricotta cheese: the flavour of ricotta cheese is not too intense and does not cover up the flavour of vinegar, thus enhancing it extremely well.
It also pairs very well with Gorgonzola cheese. Since they both taste amazing with radicchio, next time you make risotto with Gorgonzola and radicchio, add a couple of drops of balsamic vinegar of Modena - aged if possible. You won’t regret it.
Balsamic vinegar of Modena goes extremely well with onions, especially backed or caramelised. Their sweet flavour creates a simply exceptional contrast with the vinegar sourness. A recipe to impress: tarte tatin with caramelised onions and balsamic vinegar.
It also pairs really well with squash. This sweet vegetable perfectly complements the sweet flavour of balsamic vinegar, but it is damped by the sour note at the end. An outstanding side dish idea is baked squash with balsamic vinegar and finely chopped hazelnuts for an extra crunch.
Balsamic vinegar of Modena tastes amazing with tomatoes, too, but make sure to pair vinegar and tomatoes that have the same age. For instance, fresh tomatoes pair well with a young balsamic vinegar, while tomatoes packed in oil, dried tomatoes or semi-dried tomatoes taste amazing with an aged balsamic vinegar.
Meat and fish
A classic food pairing is balsamic vinegar with sliced steak: a refined meat cut combined with an exceptional product - what more could you wish for?
The flavour of chicken can also be enhanced by a couple of drops of PGI balsamic vinegar of Modena.
Pairing it with fish and seafood is very original, but somewhat more difficult to get right. Balsamic vinegar tastes exceptional with baked bar and gilthead bream, with seared tuna steak and stuffed calamari. However, it tastes the best with raw fish. It is a must on salmon tartare and raw shrimp scampi.
Dessert and fruit
PGI Balsamic vinegar of Modena perfectly complements sweet flavours: its sour note is able to create a very pleasant contrast, intensifying the flavour and cleansing the palate.
One of the most famous food pairing is balsamic vinegar with strawberries: a bowl of strawberries drizzled with balsamic vinegar, as a topping or sauce to garnish custards and semifreddo desserts - strawberries and balsamic vinegar are a winning duo, no matter how you combine them.
The same goes for the combination with pears. Pears, especially cooked pears, are sometimes too sweet; balsamic vinegar of Modena comes to rescue, finding a new balance and creating a new kind of sweet, full of intense nuances. We suggest trying panna cotta with caramelised pears and aged balsamic vinegar.
Balsamic vinegar is simply delicious with grapes. After all, vinegar is made of grapes and making a dessert out of two different stages of life of this fruit could be a nice idea. Make (or buy) some grape ice cream, put it in a crunchy wafer and pour some balsamic vinegar on it - the result is simply outstanding.
Two drops of balsamic vinegar are enough to make every dish more refined and the more it has aged, the more intense its flavour gets. Balsamic vinegar that has aged over twenty years is an actual treasure: the flavour becomes more concentrated and more refined as time passes. Balsamic vinegar of Modena is a truly exceptional product - its flavour is unique, its tradition one of a kind.