Wine+Art's thread on olive oils is great, but, to be honest, I find the Balsamic vinegar you use to be every bit as important to the salad or dish.

Unlike with olive oil, I'm not yet at the point where I am primarily comparing and contrasting the different qualities of differing Balsamics, I more frequently base my buying on overall quality. That said, I'd love it if people who have done balsamic tastings would chime in!

For me, my standards are the Bariani's CA Balsamic and <ducks for cover> the Trader Joes Gold Label (though the label is red) Balsamic. Both are reasonably priced ($15/500ml, $5/250ml respectively) and both are very good, with the Bariani a bit more pure tasting, but also a bit sweeter. I think I might actually prefer the Trader Joes. I guess the standard is the black bottle of Fini, which I like, but don't find worth the tariff. The white bottle of Fini is wonderful, but I go through so much balsamic, that it is way out of my price range.

I know I've had others I've really enjoyed, but I haven't gone exploring here nearly as much as I should have. So, what do you use?
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Excellent topic!

We have several we love, including a 50 year old one that is wonderful on ice cream. I will post on them soon.
I have a liter bottle of something called, "Balsamic Vinegar of Modena--Monari Federzori" est. 1912.
This was a cheap bottle and not that great when I bought it--about 25 years ago. Now however, I still have about a third of the bottle, and it's aged surprisingly well.
Like opening a bottle of Yellow Tail after 25 years and having it taste like Amon-Ra. Big Grin
My brother-in-law knows an Italian importer in California and he sends us balsamic as gifts. I know a lot of people that have not had the real thing and they are always blown away when they try it. I love it on strawberries, ice cream and figs.
I posted about this last winter. I'm very interested in recommendations for high-end balsamics.

I've never forgotten the first time I was served a great balsamic vinegar poured over strawberries and creme fraiche. It was a real eye-opener that demonstrated the range of flavour and quality of this product to someone like me, who previously equated "vinegar" with something that only goes into salad dressings.

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