Frequently Asked Questions


We try to anticipate questions you might have about our products and provide the answers here. If you need additional information send email to info@miglioregourmet.com.
1.
What makes Balsamic Vinegar different from other vinegars?

Our Traditional Style Condimento is aged up to 18 years. Our dark condimento is of the highest quality and is made in Modena, Italy from cooked, high quality caramelized grape must from Trebbiano, and on occasion, Lambrusco grapes.  The grape must in our condimeto is cooked over an open wood fire in copper kettles, just as actual DOP Traditional Balsamic dictates that wood-fire-cooked grape must is then put directly into old, fired wood barrels which were used to age balsamic in years past.  These barrels become progressively smaller as the product becomes thicker and naturally evaporates over times.

 

The barrels as well as the product they once contained, add character to the grape must over time.  Nothing is ever added to the cooked, caramelized must of DOP Traditional Balsamic Vinegar.  Pro-biotic wild yeast and acetic bacteria colonize it and eventually raise the acidity.  It slowly ages in this manner and turns into "vinegar" by itself over the course of many years, hence the scarcity and price tag.  By Italian law, it must then be tested for quality by measuring many criteria, including, and most importantly, the dry extract solids.  It can then only be sold in tiny bottles, which are identical, based on two exclusive regions of production, Emilio Reggiano or Modena Italy.  The bottles from each region are uniform in size and shape regardless of who produced the balsamic.  If a particular producers balsamic meets very strict criteria, it is then certified DOP, wax sealed and numbered for individual sale.  The wax sealed numbered bottles, must only be sold in a box set, never as a loose bottle by itself.  It is never, ever sold in other types of bottles or in bulk - EVER!!

 

The primary difference between DOP Balsamic and our condimento, is that , out of the gate, ours is inoculated with a very small amount of premium quality aged red wine vinegar (<2%), which introduces the natural acetic bacteria and yeast and begins the process from cooked grape must, to Balsamic Vinegar Condimento.  It is then aged using the Solera method, which means that it goes through a succession of different types of very old, fired wood barrels, (mulberry, oak, cherry, juniper, and ash) each of which previously contained residual amounts of older balsamic dating back as far as 18 years prior, and in some cases 25 years.  It is topped off with must as it moves from barrel to smaller barrel, evaporating and naturally condensing, based on the Solera method.  For this reason, no product, including actual DOP certified balsamic in licensed bottles can make an actual age claim - ever!  This is strictly prohibited by Italian law!!

 

Many of these imposters are not from Modena and are comprised almost wholly of poor quality un-aged wine or distilled vinegar stored in stainless steel, and laden with added thickeners, color artificial flavor, refined sugar syrups and sweeteners.

 

Our condimento's very low acidity of 4.5% is a function of the grape must being naturally cooked down, condensed and aged without the addition of thickeners and sweeteners, unlike so many "balsamic-like" products on the market. The density and complexity of our condimento are a testament to the fact that it's made in Modena, in the "traditional style" from high quality grape must, which has been cooked in copper, over an open wood fire and then aged using the Solera System.  Our condimento comes from sound ripe Trebbiano grapes.  It contains the highest level of grape dried extract solids (equating to natural density) which is one of the most important criteria used to measure and certify the quality of Tradtional DOP Balsamic Vinegar sold exclusively in the small consortium licensed bottles.


3.

How many different Olive Oil grades are there -and what do they mean?

According to the United States Department of Agriculture the only acceptable grade of olive oil is Virgin Olive Oil. The Food and Drug Administration definition is,” Olive oil is the edible oil expressed from the sound, mature fruit of the olive tree." No recognition is given to refined or extracted oil.
 
Most grading is based on the method of production and designations are a marketing tool used by producers. The terms can be confusing and sometimes intentionally misleading. 

Extra-virgin olive oil comes from virgin oil production only, contains no more than 0.8% acidity, and is judged to have a superior taste. Extra Virgin olive oil accounts for less than 10% of oil in many producing countries.


Virgin olive oil is produced by the use of physical means and no chemical treatment. , has an acidity less than 2%, and is judged to have a good taste. Over 50% of the oil produced in the Mediterranean area is of such poor quality that it must be refined to produce an edible product. 

After these two grades come the blends of oil that are mainly (up to 90%) refined oil and virgin Olive oil.

Pure olive oil. Oils labeled as Pure olive oil or Olive oil are usually a blend of refined and virgin production oil. Over 50% of the oil produced in the Mediterranean area is of such poor quality that it must be refined to produce an edible product. No solvents used used to extract the oil but it has been refined with the use of charcoal and other chemical and physical filters

Olive oil is a blend of virgin and refined production oil, of no more than 1.5% acidity, and lacks a strong flavor.

Olive-pomace oil is refined pomace olive production oil possibly blended with some virgin production oil. It is fit for consumption, but may not be described simply as olive oil. Olive-pomace oil is rarely sold at retail; it is often used for certain kinds of cooking in restaurants.

Refined olive oil is the olive oil obtained from virgin olive oils by refining methods which do not lead to alterations in the initial glyceridic structure. It has a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of not more than 0.3 grams per 100 grams (0.3%) and its other characteristics correspond to those fixed for this category in this standard. This is obtained by refining virgin olive oils which have a high acidity level and/or organoleptic defects which are eliminated after refining. Over 50% of the oil produced in the Mediterranean area is of such poor quality that it must be refined to produce an edible product. Note that no solvents have been used to extract the oil but it has been refined with the use of charcoal and other chemical and physical filters. An obsolete equivalent is "pure olive oil"

Pomace olive oil is extracted from the pomace using chemical solvents, mostly hexane, and by heat. Sometimes blended with some virgin production oil. It is fit for consumption, but may not be described simply as olive oil. Olive-pomace oil is rarely sold at retail; it is often used for certain kinds of cooking in restaurants.

Lampante oil is not suitable as food because it is made usually from olives that are spoiled or insect infested.; the term lampante comes from olive oil's long-standing use in oil-burning lamps. Lampante oil is mostly used in the industrial market. It must be chemically refined before it can be consumed. The resulting oil, after refining, is known as A-Refined, or Refined-A olive oil. It is not, strictly speaking, "olive oil." It is used as the primary ingredient for a new product that is sold as "Pure Olive Oil.”.

As the United States is not a member, the IOOC retail grades have no legal meaning in that country; terms such as "extra virgin" may be used without legal restrictions.

Since 1948 the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has listed four grades of olive oil based on acidity, absence of defects, odor and flavor:


U.S. Grade A or U.S. Fancy possesses a free fatty acid content of not more than 1.4% and is "free from defects";

U.S. Grade B or U.S. Choice possesses a free fatty acid content of not more than 2.5% and is "reasonably free from defects";

U.S. Grade C or U.S. Standard possesses a free fatty acid content of not more than 3.0% and is "fairly free from defects";

U.S. Grade D or U.S. Substandard possesses a free fatty acid content greater than 3.0% and "fails to meet the requirements of U.S. Grade C".

With these diverse labeling styles and the small amount of information they provide, the best indicator of a good olive oil is obtained by tasting while keeping in mind the freshness and beneficial nutritional and antioxidant levels.
Ultra Premium (UP) is a new category of olive oil that distinguishes the highest quality olive oil in the world. The UP standard was created by Veronica Foods in response to the growing need to separate high quality extra virgin olive oils from what dominates the so called “gourmet” and “premium” olive oil markets, as well as the broader category sold in mass markets the world over under thousands of brands and private labels. The absurdly low standards created and fostered by numerous trade associations and government agencies responsible for policing them has only contributed to the confusion and misinformation. EU producers are actually given a perverse incentive in the form of government subsidies to keep their oils in storage until market conditions improve. This practice clearly demonstrates the governmental complicity with retailers and bottlers to sacrifice quality for price. Lack of enforcement and testing by these trade associations and governmental agencies has led to a marketplace dominated by inferior oils and rife with adulteration. These practices by some of the world’s largest olive oil producers and bottlers have led to a steep decline in prices of extra virgin olive oil and are driving quality oil producers out of business.
The self serving overemphasis on “Where” extra virgin olive oil is produced continues to dominate perceptions at the expense of the far more significant “When, What, and How” the oil is made. The UP standard has as its principal barometers Chemistry and Freshness. These two underappreciated variables can be objectively measured, quantified, and certified. Since the highest quality EVOO comes from high quality fruit coupled with high quality production processes, the UP standard encompasses strict requirements for both the end-product and the production process.
No matter how high the quality of fruit and production methods used, the best olive oils in the world are never as good as when they are fresh. There are no standards for shelf-life of EVOO, and the current IOC “best buy” date is intentionally misleading and utilized at the whim of the retailer and bottler. When a quality EVOO is fresh, there is significantly more positive sensory attributes detectable by the palate. As any EVOO ages, it naturally oxidizes losing positive sensory qualities as well as inheriting defects. Newly developed tests can objectively quantify the “Freshness” of an EVOO at various stages in its lifecycle and are referred to as the “Fresh Pack” tests encompassing both the Diacylglycerol Content (DAGS) and Pyropheophytins (PPP).
The UP standard is reserved for the finest extra virgin olive oils in the world, as such, the UP grade exceeds all existing European, Italian, Spanish, Greek, North American, Californian, or any other standard for the grade known as extra virgin olive oil. In order to qualify for the UP grade, the extra virgin olive oil must meet or exceed a comprehensive set of Production, Storage, Transportation, Testing, Chemistry, and Organoleptic requirements as set forth in the following document. Instead of placing an overemphasis on what is less important (Terroir) to

 


4.

What type of Olives are used to make Olive Oil?

 

5.

Do your seasonings have any preservatives?

Our seasoning blends are all natural with NO preservatives added.  The herbs and spices in our seasonings are cleaned by a steam and heat process.  This process eliminates harmful bacteria, preserves the flavor of the seasonings, and leaves no chemical residues.
 
There are many interesting articles on this subject, if you would like to read more;
 

 

Our products are ideal for GAME HUNTERS who want to make their own sausage or jerky using Venison, Elk, Wild Boar, Bison, Moose & more!

 

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