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About Balsamic Vinegar

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About Balsamic Vinegar

Our Dark Balsamic Vinegar

Branch & Vine’s balsamic vinegars are from Modena, Italy and are aged in the traditional method.  Sweet and tart, complex and full-bodied, our balsamic vinegars change ordinary to gourmet!

Our dark balsamic vinegar is an Italian “Traditional Style Condimento, Aged Up to 18 Years.”  Of the highest quality, our dark condimento is made from cooked, high quality caramelized grape must from Trebbiano and Lambrusco grapes.  The grape must is cooked over an open wood fire to a caramel stage and is then inoculated with a very small amount of premium quality, barrel aged Italian wine vinegar.  The barrel aged wine vinegar introduces the natural acetic bacteria and yeast and begins the process from cooked grape must to “condiment” or vinegar.  It is then aged using the Solera method which dictates that it be placed in a succession of different types of very old, fired wood barrels, each of which previously contained residual amounts of older balsamic dating back as far as 18 years and in some cases 25 years.  It is topped off as it moves from barrel to barrel, based on the Solera method, with younger, wood fire cooked grape must as it naturally evaporates.   The barrels, as well as the product they once contained, add character and complexity to the must over time.  

Our dark balsamic vinegar’s very low acidity of 4% is a function of the grape must being naturally cooked down, condensed, caramelized and aged without the addition of much else, unlike so many “balsamic-like” products on the market which are not from Modena and are comprised almost wholly of poor quality wine or distilled vinegar, thickeners, color and sweeteners.  The density and complexity of our vinegar are a testament to the fact that it is made in Modena in the Solera method from high quality grape must, cooked down over an open wood fire.   

Our White Balsamic Vinegar

Our white balsamic vinegar is made from white Trebbiano grapes in Modena, Italy.  But while dark balsamic vinegar is cooked and concentrated to produce a dark color and deep, rich flavor, our white balsamic vinegar is cooked at high pressure to prevent caramelization, giving the vinegar a golden color.  Our white balsamic condiment, aged up to 12 years, is more acidic with a clean, fresh taste.

Storing Your Balsamic Vinegar

Your Balsamic Vinegar should be stored in a cool dark place.  The Vinegar Institute has conducted studies to find out and confirm that vinegar’s shelf life is almost indefinite.  Because of its acid nature, vinegar is self-preserving and does not need refrigeration.  While some changes can be observed over time, such as color changes or the development of a haze or sediment, this is only an aesthetic change. The product can still be used and enjoyed with confidence.

What is the “Mother” of vinegar?

“Mother” of vinegar will naturally occur in vinegar products as the result of the vinegar bacteria itself.  Mother is actually cellulose (a natural carbohydrate which is the fiber in foods like celery and lettuce) produced by the harmless vinegar bacteria.  After opening, you may notice “mother” beginning to form. Vinegar containing “mother” is not harmful or spoiled.  You can remove the substance by filtering it out with a coffee filter or just leave it in and ignore it and continue to enjoy the product. 

Health Benefits of Balsamic Vinegar

True and natural balsamic vinegar offers rewarding health benefits.  Balsamic vinegar is a rich source of several minerals such as calcium, zinc, copper, magnesium, iron, potassium, manganese, phosphorus and sodium. Scientific studies have found evidence that support the following health benefits: 

Improved Immune System: Enhanced resistance to diseases caused by cell damage due to free radical reactions. This benefit is a result of the antioxidant properties of a bioflavonoid called quercetin and antioxidants called pyenogenols. Through antioxidant action, the body achieves a greater resistance against diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular complications.

Cardiovascular Benefits: Research findings show that the bioflavonoids present in grape juice have a role to play in preventing coronary artery thickening. This reduces the risk of developing coronary artery disease. Some studies have also found that using an oil and vinegar dressing on salads affords protection against heart disease because such dressings contain omega-3 fatty acids.  Animal studies have shown that balsamic vinegar can reduce blood pressure in rats although this is yet to be investigated in humans.  Balsamic vinegar is low in saturated fat and is believed to reduce cholesterol. Moreover, since it is low in sodium, it enhances heart health and reduces high blood pressure.

Weight Loss Benefits:  Balsamic vinegar is less fattening than other marinades and dressings making it a useful component for weight loss.  It is also an appetite suppressant, which lowers chances of overeating, and also contributes to weight loss.  Consuming balsamic vinegar keeps you full by increasing how long it takes for your stomach to empty. The weight loss abilities of your body are also improved because of the potassium, iron and calcium found in balsamic vinegar.

Anti-Diabetic Benefits: Balsamic vinegar can also improve insulin sensitivity for diabetics, allowing for an easier regulation of blood sugar and reducing unpleasant side effects from diabetes.

Anti-Cancer Benefits: Balsamic vinegars cancer fighting properties are being intensively researched.   Acetic acid has shown an ability to inhibit growth of tumors in laboratory studies.  Some studies have found that a compound called resveratrol found in grapes has the ability to inhibit growth of tumors of the liver and breast and this may be one of the factors that contribute to the anticancer effects of balsamic vinegar.

Digestive Benefits: Balsamic vinegar is rich in polyphenols, a powerful antioxidant that helps boost pepsin activity. Pepsin is an enzyme that is secreted into the stomach to aid in the digestion process. This enzyme works to break down proteins that are consumed and turn them into amino acids that can be more easily absorbed by the body.  Pepsin also helps to speed up your metabolism.

Other Benefits:  Drinking about two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar may relieve heartburn or acid indigestion. Other uses for the vinegar include relief of chest congestion via a hot water and vinegar vapor, and sore throat by gargling with a mixture of balsamic vinegar, hot water and honey.  Balsamic vinegar has a number of antiviral and antibacterial properties, allowing it to help heal wounds and infections.  Balsamic vinegar can also help prevent fatigue and anemia, energize the body, strengthen bones (calcium absorption) and slow the signs of aging.

What is DOP Traditional Balsamic (Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale)?

DOP Traditional Balsamic is a prized (and expensive) product of Italy.    It is made by cooking the grape must over an open wood fire to a caramel stage followed by putting it directly into old wood barrels which were used to age balsamic in years past.  These barrels become progressively smaller as the product becomes thicker and naturally evaporates over time.  The barrels as well as the product they once contained, add character to the must over time.  Nothing is added to the cooked, caramelized must of

DOP Traditional Balsamic (i.e. it is not inoculated with red wine vinegar).  Pro-biotic wild yeast and acetic bacteria colonize the must and eventually raise the acidity.  It slowly ages in this manner and turns in to "vinegar" by itself over the course of many years, hence the scarcity and price tag. 

By Italian law, DOP Traditional Balsamic must then undergo strenuous sensory evaluation as well as laboratory analysis which measures extensive criteria including and most importantly, dry extract solids.   Once approved as DOP, it can then only be sold in 100 ml. bottles which are identical based on two exclusive regions of production, Emilio Reggiano or Modena Italy.  The bottles from each region are uniform in size and shape regardless of who produced the balsamic. The Italian consortium then licenses the producer to use the 100 ml. DOP bottle which is then, wax sealed, numbered and boxed for individual sale. 
This product is rarely if ever used for cooking.  It is far too prized and expensive.  For this reason, it’s typically served drop by drop on a spoon.

 If you are interested in purchasing a bottle of DOP Traditional Balsamic please contact us and we will special order it for you.  However, you can enjoy the taste and versatility of Branch & Vine’s traditional style dark balsamic condimento at a much more affordable price!  A taste test would reveal that the similarity in taste is remarkable. 

 

 

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