Sorry to be so long to respond to this,..between a busy season at work, and some minor knee surgery,..I've been out of commision for a little while.
I love balsamic vinegar,..but love it more in moderation. I love the flavor, but do think it can easily overpower a dish.
All of the grades have their purpose, the younger, thinner grades are used mostly for salads and marinades (I've got a great duck recipe),..when I make a vinaigrette with balsamic, I usually blend half balsamic with half red wine vinegar, that way the other flavors in the salad still come through.
Kara...I've had the fig infused balsamic, now I just make it at home by just poaching figs in regular, everyday balsamic til they're tender and begin to cook into the vinegar (you can use the packed Greek glazed figs, or even fig puree, when fresh aren't available),..anyway toss these poached figs with some bitter greens (I like Frisee), crumbled gorgonzola cheese, and a vinaigrette made from the figgy balsamic, dijon mustard and olive oil,...and you've got a very special treat!!!
The older, thicker grades are best used by the drop, over cooked food just before serving,....mmmmm,..had some really nice lamb chops drizzled with 150 yr old balsamic, last week
When I was in Florence, my host served us 200yr balsamic on chunks of parmiggiano reggiano,..it was delicious!!