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Acetoria (Acetum Manufaktur) Trockenbeerenauslese Aperitif

(Label says: Acetoria White Balsamic Vinegar)

250 ml - Alto Adige, Italy

Trockenbeerenauslese is the German name for the wine used to make this wonderful white wine balsamic vinegar. That's a mouthful*. . . but so is the vinegar. This is one of the smoothest, finest vinegars we've ever tasted and had the pleasure to add to our collection. Actually, we should say "sour liquid" - at 2.5% acidity, it doesn't have enough acid to warrant an official vinegar label.

Note: The importer promotes this vinegar as a "white balsamic" - but really it's a wine vinegar made with traditional and traditionally sweet Trockenbeerenauslese wine.  Naturally high in sugar, and low in acidity - it is a nice replacement for traditional balsamico.

Thick and lush on the palate, this white wine balsamic vinegar has light caramel notes and hints of dried fruit, and really does seem like something you could order at a bar. (Not alcoholic, however!)

Serving Suggestions
Try sauteeing onions or mushrooms in butter and add a little of this at the end . . . everyone who tastes it will want the secret recipe. Or when everyone is discussing the wines of the evening, pull this out and offer tastes, straight up -- it is, after all, an apéritif -- and jaws will drop.

Since it contains only 2.5% acid, lower than vinegars, the producers at Acetoria suggest this as a sipper. Still, we think it makes a tremendous vinegar for everything from salads to entrees.

Use it in place of sherry vinegar on green salads or seafood salads - it will work particularly well with chunks of smoked salmon, smoked oysters, or smoked mussels. Try it as a wonderful sauce base - deglaze your pan after searing or sautéing some nice cut of meat, like ribeye steaks, add a little stock, and reduce, and you'll have an exceptional pan sauce.

About Acetoria
The mountainous area of Italy's Alto Adige (or Südtirol) region was once a province of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which is why German-sounding names are quite common throughout the area. Joseph Reiterer and his colleague Robert Bauer have a small fattoria on Joseph's farm near the town of Meltina. Joseph is an acclaimed sparkling wine maker, well known for his craftsmanship and respect for agricultural output and terroir, while Robert is often considered the most skilled master vinegar maker in all of Germany.

About Trockenbeerenauslese Wine
Since Trockenbeerenauslese is made from white grapes left on the vine to shrivel until they develop "noble rot," the sugars become very concentrated, and the resulting wine is thick, rich and complex. For vinegar, the wine is then allowed to ferment to 2.5-3.5% acidity.

The Process
These are vinegars with rich, deep and complex flavors, worthy to be savored in their own right. More than just as a way to add some acidic bite to your favorite salads, these elixirs can serve as the centerpiece around which to create a meal.

Acetoria artisan vinegars are made with the utmost attention to detail, from the sugar and acid levels of the fruits as they are pressed, fermented and acidified, to the quality of the wines used to make the wine vinegars. Vinegar "mothers" are carefully chosen, the temperature and humidity of the process are controlled, and just the right type of woods are selected for the appropriate aging periods.

Each vinegar, wine or fruit, is carefully produced according to its particular specifications. Each has its own fermentation temperature, determined over time. The correct quantities of fresh air, alcohol and acidity are all necessary for the survival of the vinegar bacteria. Of course, there are also trade secrets involved in perfecting the process!

After fermentation too, the young vinegar must be nursed with care. For example, a strong, powerful Meursault vinegar prefers old wood - small barrels from Burgundy - for its maturation, while Sauternes and black currant require stainless steel tanks to mature properly, as they would lose their fruit flavors too quickly in wood. Even Fleurie is matured in stainless steel in order to preserve its freshness. On the other hand, Tokay and Châteauneuf-du-Pape need both: wood to give them body, and stainless steel to safeguard their delicate perfume.

While these examples give a sense of the factors involved, to do justice to each type of fruit and wine, the producers feel that it is not sufficient to have mere machines, but feeling, and yes, even love for the product.

*Pronounce Trockenbeerenauslese "trock-in bare-in ouse lays-uh"