Almost every week recently I would do something with E and this week, she invited me to visit a museum on the making of Traditional Modenese Balsamic Vinegar organised by her Italian teacher. It's found in Spilamberto and must be an important one as while we were there we saw 1200 bottles of balsamic vinegar sent in by people in the region for the annual Traditional Balsamic Vinegar Competition on St Giovanni's Day. Cost 4 euros per head and the good thing is that you do not feel obliged to buy anything like you usually would if you had visited a private vinegar maker.
We started out with a short video explaining the types of grapes used, the process (e.g. boiling the grape juice, natural fermentation and steady thickening in barrels made of different types of wood...knowledge usually passed down from mother to daughter) and all throughout there was a really strong smell of balsamic vinegar in the place. It was interesting seeing the different barrels for ourselves and learning that traditional balsamic vinegar is usually sold only after 12 or 25 years of maturity. Nothing like the stuff you usually buy in the supermarket. To illustrate my point, one bottle of balsamic vinegar in the supermarket usually goes for like 2-10 Euros. The traditional stuff goes for like 40-200 Euros for a tiny bottle.
The highlight of the visit of course was the tasting. We were each given a spoon containing a balsamic vinegar of at least 15 years of age. It was absolutely delicious.
Museo del Balsamico Tradizionale, Spilamberto
Villa comunale Fabriani
via Roncati, 28
Tel : 059 781 614