Check out our guide to balsamic vinegar, including where to buy it and plenty of recipe inspiration, then read about wine vinegar, rice wine vinegar and malt vinegar.

What is balsamic vinegar?

Balsamic vinegar is a concentrated vinegar with a dark colour and rich, intense flavour. The very best balsamic holds PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) and will be labelled "tradizionale di Modena" or "tradizionale di Reggio Emilia". The grape must (freshly crushed grape juice, seeds and pulp) is reduced until syrupy, then fermented and aged naturally for at least 12 years and up to 25 years, in a succession of wooden­ barrels. Depending on how it’s made and aged, this can command extremely high prices.

Less expensive is balsamic labelled "di Modena". This vinegar has an IGP stamp (Protected Geographical Indication) and is made by blending cooked grape must with good-quality wine vinegar from the same region. Quality and price can vary. Cheaper balsamics (simply labelled balsamic vinegar) can have caramel and thickening agents added to mimic the viscosity of more expensive vinegars.

Balsamic vinegar is a versatile ingredient and should be used sparingly: serve simply with aged parmesan or drizzled over good-quality ice cream.

Where to buy balsamic vinegar

Dell'Ami Aged PDO Modena balsamic vinegar, £13.75/250ml, olive shop

Belazu aged balsamic vinegar, £14.35/250ml, Ocado

Balsamic Vinegar of Modena PGI Oro Due Vittorie, £16.95/250ml, Amazon

Balsamic vinegar recipes

Caprese salad

This caprese salad with sweet tomatoes and creamy mozzarella is full of fresh Mediterranean flavours, and simple to whip up. Serve it with bread as a light, summery lunch, or as a side dish at dinner.

A white plate filled with sliced tomatoes, sliced mozzarella and basil leaves, next to a board of sliced bread and some spare plates

Cheese and balsamic shallot toastie

Slow-cooked shallots, a three-cheese mix, wedges of sourdough and a little mustard make this epic lunchtime toastie.

Cheese and balsamic shallot toastie

Pork medallions

Cook these pork medallions in a glaze made of balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, chilli and garlic until it thickens and caramelises – this is a real midweek winner.

A frying pan with pork medallions in a glossy, light sauce on a grey linen napkin

Tuscan pork loin steaks

This recipe for Tuscan pork steaks ticks all the boxes for a nutritious midweek meal. It's low-calorie, low-fat, low-sugar, low-salt and high in protein.

Tuscan pork loin steaks with butterbeans and greens on plates

Tomato risotto

This comforting dish is packed with simple Italian flavours, and topped with shredded basil and parmesan.

Two bowls of tomato risotto next to a chopping board with basil on top

Winter panzanella

This is a wintry take on the classic Mediterranean salad using root veg and rich, tangy blue cheese. It’s ideal as a starter for a festive meal.

A Citrus, beetroot and blue cheese panzanella salad on a brown bowl with a green background

Cheddar and spring onion risotto with balsamic tomatoes

Try our creamy risotto oozing with mature cheddar cheese and topped with pan-fried cherry tomatoes. This comforting recipe is bursting with beautiful flavours.

Risotto with Cheddar Cheese Recipe with Balsamic Tomatoes and Onions

Red cabbage

Redcurrant jelly and balsamic vinegar give red cabbage a sweet-and-sour edge, plus a wonderfully glossy sauce. Make this red cabbage recipe ahead for the perfect festive side.

A bowl of pickled red cabbage

Slow-cooker meatballs

Cook homemade meatballs low and slow until meltingly tender and the sauce tastes deep and rich. Serve with your favourite pasta and crusty bread, if you like.

Plate of spaghetti meatballs topped with basil

Tuna sandwich

Create this ultimate deli-style sarnie with ciabatta bread stuffed with tuna, egg and veg for a healthy yet satisfying lunchtime meal.

Two tuna and salad ciabatta sandwiches, wrapped and tied up