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High-End Balsamic Vinegar

We went in search of the ultimate high-end drizzling vinegar and discovered you don't have to pay high-end prices.


Published Mar. 1, 2007. Appears in America's Test Kitchen TV Season 21: French-Inspired Comfort Food

See Everything We Tested

What You Need To Know

When it comes to drizzling vinegar over berries or a piece of grilled fish, do you have to shell out hundreds of dollars for a traditional vinegar aged for at least 12 years? To find out, we conducted a special tasting that included a traditional balsamic approved and bottled by the Reggio Emilia vinegar consortium; the winner of our supermarket tasting (see our related tasting); and two high-priced commercial balsamics—the kind sold in gourmet stores.

The not-so-surprising news? The entry from the consortium (priced at $180 for 3 ounces), topped nearly everyone's list, with tasters waxing poetic about its "pomegranate," "caramel," "smoky" flavor that "coats the tongue" and tastes "amazing." In such rich company, our supermarket winner couldn't compete.

But the big surprise was the strong performance of the high-priced commercial vinegars we purchased at gourmet stores. They were nearly as good as the 25-year-old vinegar and cost just $3 to $4 per ounce. Tasters praised the first contestant ($27 for 8.5 ounces) as "fruity, raisiny, and complex," with notes of "wood, smoke, flowers," and described the second bottle ($35 for 8.5 ounces) as "floral" and "aromatic." Made with aged grape must and, in the case of the first brand, good wine vinegar, these gourmet commercial balsamics are reasonably priced options if you want to drizzle balsamic vinegar over food and don't want to pay a fortune.

Everything We Tested

*All products reviewed by America’s Test Kitchen are independently chosen, researched, and reviewed by our editors. We buy products for testing at retail locations and do not accept unsolicited samples for testing. We list suggested sources for recommended products as a convenience to our readers but do not endorse specific retailers. When you choose to purchase our editorial recommendations from the links we provide, we may earn an affiliate commission. Prices are subject to change.

Reviews you can trust

The mission of America’s Test Kitchen Reviews is to find the best equipment and ingredients for the home cook through rigorous, hands-on testing.

Lisa McManus

Lisa is an executive editor for ATK Reviews, cohost of Gear Heads on YouTube, and gadget expert on TV's America's Test Kitchen.