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Can any please recommend a good balsamic vinegar that I can buy in Toronto?

I'm interested in using it for salads or marinades. Can you also suggest other ways of using it? Thanks!

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  1. Earlier this year, the Post did a balsamic vinegar tasting.

    I suggest you go somewhere like Pusateri's or the Olive Pit (on Queen St.) where they allow you to sample the various vinegars before purchasing (and will guide you).

    Pasquale Brothers in Etobicoke also has a great vinegar selection.

    1. Another use is deglazing pans before making a simple pan sauce.

      The two best low cost (high QPR) balsamics that are mentioned frequently on Chow are PC and Kirkland.
      I don't have the PC on hand but the Kirkland, at $13/litre, is aged in Modena, and is rated 4 leaf (highest) on the label by a quality group in Modena.

      3 Replies
        1. re: jayt90

          Kirkland is, in my opinion, the best value for everyday use. Yes, it's the Costco brand. I always keep a bottle of something a little more special for specific fancypants uses (like drizzling over strawberries or pannacotta or very excellent tomatoes) but don't use that for marinades or salad dressing.

          1. re: Nyleve

            Oh yes. I've tried drizzling over strawberries as well. It was very good. I used a cherry balsamic vinegar from Oliver & co.. It's such a unique flavour, I'm not sure what else to use it for aside from dressing and dipping fruit.

            Thank you everyone for your suggestions. I'm going to try the Kirkland brand based on the votes so far.

        2. No one seems to ask the most pertinent question?! How much money are you willing to spend?! For a 200ml bottle say, one can spend around $30+ for a 10-15 years old Modena to over $300 for a 25-50 years old bottle! McEwan has a $500 bottle in its display unit! These latter sweet ones can be consumed like desserts with Strawberries etc.

          1. I quite like this one from Masserie. It is widely available (Loblaws, specialty stores, Sun Valley etc . . .).

            2 Replies
            1. re: Atahualpa

              I agree Atahualpa, it is very good, priced reasonably and widely available. In fact, it seems whenever I've taken a cooking class, this balsamic from Masserie has been the chef's preference.

              1. re: Atahualpa

                Masserie price point? is it reasonable for marinades and salad dressings?

              2. I've found the Pusateri's Reserve to represent a good balance between quality and value. It's a 250 ml bottle, often out of stock but available for tasting when they've got it. I can't recall the price though. It's not horribly expensive.

                That said, I just happened to pick up a bottle of the PC Premium Aged balsamic today. It's also 250 ml, it's extremely good, and it was somewhere around $10. Very highly recommended! It has a red "improved" statement on the label.

                There's also a trick you can use with many cheap balsamics. Be sure the only ingredients are wine vinegar and grape must. If you reduce it, you can make a $4 balsamic taste like a much better one. You must have good kitchen ventilation to do this.

                Most decent balsamics will contain sulfites (a wine preservative). Do not buy any balsamic containing additional ingredients (e.g., sugar, caramel, artificial colour, water).

                I've tasted the real thing, and it's amazing, but it isn't intended for dressings and marinades and it costs more than Dom Perignon.

                2 Replies
                1. re: embee

                  I've used that PC Premium Aged balsamic for salad dressings and drizzlings and it is indeed quite good.

                  1. re: JamieK

                    I bought both the Kirkland and PC Premium Aged Balsamic vinegars. I tried the Kirland brand today and used it to make a dressing for my salad and it was very good. It was very aromatic and strong in flavour yet smooth at the same time. It ended with a sweet note. Very nice. I liked it a lot. I can't wait to try the PC Brand vinegar.

                2. Just curious, as someone who has yet to experience the "high end balsalmic" phenomenon -- why aren't the good quality ones used (probably sparingly) in a salad dressing? That would be my primary use for them; I don't see myself eating it with strawberry's really..


                  3 Replies
                  1. re: duckdown

                    Think of it as a liqueur. You'd likely lose all of the subtleties in a salad dressing. I've never tried this myself and I can't afford that kind of thing nowadays. If you've got the cash to try it, enjoy - and please post :-)

                    1. re: duckdown

                      Expensive aged balsamic vinegar isn't really at all like vinegar - so wouldn't be especially appropriate for salad. It's dense, syrupy and has a unique sweet-sour flavour. Really for salad dressing - mixed with oil and other seasonings - it would lose everything that makes it so special. But if you drizzle it on strawberries or, as I like to do, over vanilla panna cotta, it's absolutely delicious. I know you don't THINK you'll use it with strawberries, but once you've tried it you'll understand.

                      1. re: Nyleve

                        much like what nyleve is saying, i think that any good ingredient will certainly elevate a dish like a salad but all the subtleties that make it truly exceptional will likely be lost in translation even though it might be the best salad dressing you've ever had. to really taste it for what it is, simple preparations like mascerated strawberries or a drop on a panna cotta will really display its characteristics very well. the sweet tangy flavour also works most easily with desserts and very well with cream as a counter point (compared to say the bitter of some greens). come to think of it, i may have to try it with a creamy and not so tangy polenta... the other main point though is that if you're ever planning to heat it, say for a glaze (though it's thick enough you could just do a direct glaze), you might as well use the cheap stuff because it will develop the sugars anyways with some heat application.

                    2. Costco online along Ogourmet online sell high end Balsamic Vinegar.