Should you splurge on a pricey balsamic? We tasted 25 supermarket and specialty brands to find out. We liked the fancy ones for special occasions, but for daily use, some cheaper brands scored.

Progresso $2

staff comment "Nice fruitiness. You can actually taste the grape here."
interesting bite This low-cost American brand is made with selected grapes imported from Modena.

Bioanturae $5

staff comment "Mellower than some of the others—would be nice to use for dressings."
interesting bite It took a year of phone calls from the owner of the American company Bionaturae to convince an old family-owned Italian producer to create an organic vinegar for them.

Villa Manodori $35

staff comment "Sweet and raisiny."
interesting bite Chef Massimo Bottura from Modena blended this balsamic vinegar with some aged wine vinegar, specifically for use in cooking.

La Vecchia Dispensa Condimento Balsamico $39

staff comment "Smoky, oaky and full-bodied."
interesting bite Dispensa means "cupboard" or "pantry" in Italian.