Making Balsamic Vinegar

By Greg Baer M.D.

January 2, 2014

Over the centuries, vinegars have been used for cooking, health, and even cleaning. The word vinegar comes from the French for "sour wine," which is understandable because most vinegars are made from fermented grapes, or from other fruit and berry juices, grain, herbs, rice, or honey.

Balsamic vinegar, however, is made from whole, unfermented grapes--usually Trebbiano or Lambrusco from the Modena and Reggio Emilia regions of Italy. The production process is laborious, and the longer the vinegar is aged—accompanied by considerable tasting and manipulating—the finer the taste and more expensive it becomes.

The balsamic vinegar sold at Wal-Mart costs about $6.00 for 18 ounces, or about 33 cents per ounce. Sometimes the label states that the contents are "aged," but that might mean that the vinegar was aged from the time it left the factory until it arrived at the store three weeks later.

Balsamic vinegar aged for 3 years costs about $8 for 14 ounces, or 57 cents per ounce. 18-year-old vinegar costs $12 for 200 ml, or $1.80 per ounce. 30-year-old vinegar is $96 for 2.39 ounces, or $40 per ounce. I've tasted all these grades, and I can tell you that the 30-year-old stuff is worth the price. You make salad dressing with the inexpensive stuff, but the expensive vinegar is gently sopped up by the quarter-teaspoon with pieces of hot Italian bread--so you don't miss the fine taste.

I've long had the desire to taste 100-year-old balsamic, but I thought I'd wait until just before I died, because it costs $400 for 2.39 ounces, or $167 per ounce—roughly the price of gold 30 years ago. The other day a dear friend sent me a bottle of 100-year-old balsamic, and it was worth the wait. I taste it by putting less than a drop at a time on the end of my finger.

Loving relationships are like balsamic vinegar. You can easily get a relationship quickly and cheaply, and that's how it will taste—cheap, with a bitter aftertaste. Or you can take your time—along with care and skill—and produce a relationship worth everything you'll ever pay for it.

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About the author 

Greg Baer, M.D.

I am the founder of The Real Love® Company, Inc, a non-profit organization. Following the sale of my successful ophthalmology practice I have dedicated the past 25 years to teaching people a remarkable process that replaces all of life's "crazy" with peace, confidence and meaning in various aspects of their personal lives, including parenting, marriages, the workplace and more.

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