Look for the PGI logo and/or the Consortium seal on the neck
If there’s no PGI logo, then the vinegar wasn’t made in Modena and hasn’t been subject to the same rigorous standards required of an authentic Balsamic Vinegar of Modena.
For example, products called only ‘Balsamic Vinegar’ without being from Modena can have sometimes have added sugars to deliver sweetness, instead of achieving this through the artful blend of the right about of grape must. In addition, these products are not governed by any independent certification to guarantee the aging process or the time the product truly spends in the barrel.
So, to be sure you're getting the authentic article, look for the distinctive blue and yellow PGI badge on the rear label — or the ‘Consortium’ seal on the neck — and you’re off to a good start.
Check the age
A genuine Balsamic Vinegar of Modena should be matured in wooden barrels — and the longer the liquid is kept in the barrels, the richer, more complex, deliciously woody notes it absorbs.
If a product is produced by a member of the Consortium then it’s easy to check how long it has been aged for by the colour of the seal on the neck of the bottle — burgundy if it’s been matured for at least 60 days and up to 3 years (this is called affinato), and gold if it's been aged for longer (denoted by the Italian word invecchiato).
Read the ingredients
The list of ingredients on the back label of the bottle says a lot about the quality of the final product.
The ingredients are listed by quantity: and as a general rule, more premium Balsamic vinegars are made with more grape must than wine vinegar.
If you see wine vinegar listed first, this doesn't mean it's not a good quality, it just helps you know that the taste will be tangier, zestier, and more stereotypically ‘vinegary’ — but if grape must is first, then you can expect a sweeter, more balanced flavour with a thicker, more drizzle-worthy, consistency.
Pay attention to the price tag
When you’re browsing the shelves at your local supermarket, price is an important consideration too.
Why? Because authentic Balsamic Vinegar requires quality raw materials and patient craftsmanship — and neither of those things come cheaply. Once again, do your research and check the label… the more grape must and the longer the aging should be the higher the price.
Trust in proven expertise
The Mazzetti family have been making Balsamic Vinegar of Modena for nearly 80 years, using original family recipes that have been passed down through the generations.
That sort of time-honed expertise can’t be hurried or faked, and all those decades of practise and passion will show through in the finished product — just like they do in every Mazzetti bottle.