This vivace (literally “lively”) balsamic vinegar from Bonini is aged for three years—a lifetime, compared to most American vinegars, but just a baby compared to the 8-, 12-, or 25-year-aged varieties out there! That lively youth gives this bottle a more equal balance of pucker to sweetness, more like a vinegar than the super-syrupy condiment you get in ultra-aged balsamic.
Why is balsamic vinegar from Modena so special? The production of balsamic in this region is strictly regulated, which means no funky additives or other cost-cutting methods allowed. What you get is pure grape goodness, fermented and aged the way it’s been done for centuries. The process starts with grape must (whole crushed grapes) that is left over from the production of wine. They’re cooked low and slow to make a sweet grape juice, which is then transferred to wood barrels to kick off the fermentation process.
Over time, the vinegar culture transforms this juice into a complex, sweet-and-sour liquid that’s packed with probiotics and beneficial enzymes (to this day, many Italians swear by a spoonful of balsamic every day as a health tonic). It slowly evaporates, reducing to a thick, syrupy consistency, and the wood of the barrels imparts its own natural flavors like vanilla and honey. The older the balsamic, the denser and more flavorful it will be.
Balsamico Bonini began in the 1990s as a passion project for Italian actor Fabio Massimo Bonini, who was born in Modena. He was known for bringing real balsamic from his home to share with friends in Milan, who were stunned by its difference from the stuff they could find in grocery stores. After painstaking historical research and selection of the best materials, Bonini decided to begin selling a balsamic that met his extremely high standards. Today, they produce a range of balsamic that showcase the many sides of this “black gold” from Modena.