How do I balsamic vinegar without Trader Joe’s?
May 17, 2020 5:56 PM   Subscribe

I’ve been buying the same balsamic vinegar from Trader Joe’s for years - it’s really good and only costs around $6 a bottle. Unfortunately I took the train to TJs, and am obviously not doing that anymore and am limited to what I can get online or from my regular local supermarket. There’s also a Whole Foods within walking distance.

Every time I’ve just bought a balsamic from a grocery store other than this TJs one, they’re kind of harsh and thin. The TJs version is rich and a little sweet, but not syrupy. I tried to do some research about how to buy a good balsamic, and found out about DOP and IGP. They all seem to be significantly more expensive than my TJs vinegar - I can definitely pay more but I use it pretty heavily to make salad dressing so I go through it fast.

Is there a balsamic you like that’s not super expensive but also really good? Please advise, my diet right now is mostly chickpea salad with balsamic vinaigrette and I’m down to half a bottle.
posted by nevernines to Food & Drink (7 answers total)
I’ve bought Trader Joe’s branded products on Amazon before. I’m not sure which specific product you’re looking for, but a quick search shows that there is some balsamic vinegar available. It is usually a lot more expensive via Amazon (and, you know, other issues with Amazon), but if that’s your only option... (In my case, the products were discontinued, so third-party was my only option.)
posted by kevinbelt at 6:23 PM on May 17

I like Whole Foods 365 Organic Balsamic Vinegar of Modena. Possibly more syrupy than you want, but I think it's supposed to be that way...
posted by pinochiette at 7:31 PM on May 17

Looking at Cook's Illustrated ratings (paywalled) from 2015, their winner is Bertolli Balsamic Vinegar of Modena.
Other ones they recommend from higher to lower ratings are:
Monari Federzoni Balsamic Vinegar of Modena
Colavita Balsamic Vinegar of Modena
Ortalli Balsamic Vinegar of Modena
Bellino Balsamic Vinegar of Modena
Lucini Aged Balsamic Vinegar of Modena (syrupy)
posted by ShooBoo at 11:02 PM on May 17 [5 favorites]

I use Kirkland Signature Aged Balsamic Vinegar. It's $12.49 for 1 liter. It says it's made in Italy and has 6% acidity. If you are not a Costco member, you can use Instacart.
posted by wisekaren at 5:05 AM on May 18

Ill preface this by saying i dont care for balsamic vinegar so take my opinions with a grain of salt, but:

I dont think TJs is selling terribly high quality vinegar, not markedly better than the grocery store alternatives. Your research showing the relatively much much higher prices for DOP and IGP labeled small batch products shows, rightly, that theyre not in the same league as what you have been getting, price-wise, so why would TJ's be better than grocery store? turnover. I would venture to guess there is never a bottle on TJs shelf for a week or two, and i definitley cannot say the same for other grocery options near me. Costco is probably a good similar option thats moving just a ton of product. This might be a reason to think twice about buying a Trader Joes product on Amazon, as you would not have the same assurance that it was recently rotated stock.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 5:17 AM on May 18

This is admittedly more than what you are spending, but it is quite good. We first tried it in Milan at a lovely restaurant, then found it at a grocer there for 9 euros. It is a bit thicker than those you normally find at the grocery store, and very complex. It's our everyday balsamic now.
posted by ersatzkat at 10:26 AM on May 18 [1 favorite]

I've also been burned picking moderately priced balsamic at random. Last time when I couldn't get a tried and true brand, I went to the store and literally held a bunch of bottles up to the light and swirled them around a bit to check the viscosity. You can see the decent ones will be thick enough to coat the glass a bit. The one I chose was on the high end of "moderate" but it was good (when I'd just been hoping for 'not a disappointment') so I consider the technique a success. Keeping my eyes open for some of these recommendations next time!
posted by yeahlikethat at 9:45 PM on May 20

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