Balsamic vinegar has become all the rage in America, thanks to creative chefs at upscale restaurants. It is difficult to believe that this robust product of the vine has only come to be appreciated within the last two decades in America, when Italians have been enjoying it for centuries.
The rich, slightly sweet flavor of balsamic vinegar readily lends itself to vinaigrette dressings, gourmet sauces, and brings out the sweetness of fresh fruits such as raspberries, strawberries, and peaches.
How does a lowly vinegar come to reap such praise? As far back as 900 years ago, vintners in the Modena, Italy region were making balsamic vinegar which was taken as a tonic and bestowed as a mark of favor to those of importance.
Although it is considered a wine vinegar, it is not a wine vinegar at all. It is not made from wine, but from grape pressings that have never been permitted to ferment into wine.
What is the difference between White Balsamic and Dark Balsamic?
The White Balsamic is made with Sweet White Trebbiano grape yes, but so is the dark balsamic.
The Dark Balsamic gets the dark color from the sugars caramelizing during the cooking process while it is being reduced and concentrated.
The White Balsamic is reduced in a vacuum chamber. This allows the water content to evaporate at a much lower temperature, below the temperature that sugar will caramelize at. White wine vinegar is used instead of red wine vinegar and it is not put in wood barrels. The taste is a little lighter and less bitter without the caramelization. Even though the sugar content is the same as the dark, it can actually taste sweeter because the bitter does not offset the sweetness.
The flavors of the two are very similar, although the dark balsamic is slightly sweeter and tends to be a little more syrupy. The white has more of a clean aftertaste. The main reason one would use white balsamic, rather than regular, is mostly aesthetic. It can be used with lighter colored foods, dressings, or sauces without any discoloring. If that sort of thing matters to you.