Balsamic Vinegar has a history that dates back centuries in the Modena and Reggio Emilia regions of Italy.
In these regions it was common to give a barrel of balsamic vinegar as a gift to newlywed couples. These couples would allow the balsamic vinegar to age and eventually they would a have a small treasure resting in their attic.
The process is an art that takes years to master, is time consuming and expensive.
In order to increase production manufactureres needed to avoid these challenges by creating a product meant to imitate the real thing.
This new product that is referred to as "balsamic vinegar" is really just wine vinegar with added sugar, dyes, and sometimes thickening agents. It may be hard to believe but if you check any bottle of balsamic vinegar in your cabinet the first ingredient is almost always going to be "wine vinegar" or "balsamic vinegar".
For this reason, finding real balsamic vinegar can be incredibly difficult.
I've experience how difficult it can be to find real balsamic vinegar when the term is so loosely applied. Often labels, advertisments, etc. will all bear the terms "traditional", "real", or "the best", while completely neglecting what balsamic vinegar truly is.
I've even seen some flavored products that go as far as saying "aged for 20 years in Modena". I don't have a way of fact checking their claims, however I do know that Anselmo (the owner of Antica Acetaia Mandrio) would probably have some not so kind words for me if I ever asked him to artificially flavor his product.
Once you know how to spot the imposters by checking to see if it includes wine vinegar, or even checking the origin of a product you'll probably notice that most are marked up by importers to be incredibly expensive in the US.
That realization is what made me start truebalsamic.com