Today’s letter is “V”, so we’ll talk about Verjus.
You know the old saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade?” Well, when life gives you unripe grapes, make verjus. I’ve only recently discovered the phenomenon of verjus – it was called for in a recipe I was experimenting with, so I had to research it, then hunt it down. And OMG, it sure was awesome!
Had I known there was actually something to do with the unripened grapes I thinned all those years from the vine, I so would have made verjus a long time ago! Those unripened grapes weren’t conducive for eating – for one, they’re small, and full of seeds, so yeah, not gonna happen. Plus they’re usually sour, so that’s something I’m not going to scarf down.
Verjus itself is really nothing more than sour, acidic grape juice. But it does give a recipe acidity without the hammer of a true vinegar. A dish acidified with verjus will remain wine-friendly, which of course we want!
While acidic, verjus has a gentler flavor than vinegar, with a sweet-tart taste that is often used to heighten the flavor of many sauces or mustards. The word verjus derives from the French term vert jus, literally “green juice”, which refers to its source – the high-acid, low-sugar grapes that winemakers thin from the vines just when the crop is beginning to ripen.
This early crop of unripe grapes is pressed, resulting in verjus. Unlike wine, however, verjus is not fermented, and is not alcoholic, meaning that its use in a salad dressing or sauce will not interfere with the flavor of the accompanying drinking wine.
I’m researching different recipes and ‘how to’ – I’ll share that with you when I’ve had a chance to test some techniques. Stay tuned!
Winemaking is so much fun – at least for me – and am tickled every time I give the wine I make as gifts to friends and family who love drinking it as much as I love making it. While we go through this alphabetical series on winemaking, if you have any burning questions, be sure to ask them in the comments below, and I’ll reply there – and maybe even highlight your specific question(s) in a future post!
Thanks for joining me in this fun adventure!
Here are the links going backwards for your convenience, in case you missed any:
A for Aromas, Acidity and Appearance
B for Barrels, Bottles and Blackberry Wine
C for Color, Clarity, Carboys and Cherry Wine
D for Decanting and Decanters
E for Equipment
F for Fermentation
G for Glass and Grape
H for Harvest
I for Infusion
J for Jeroboam and Jug
K for Kabinett
L for Leaf, Label and Lees
M for Merlot, Muscat and Must
N – the Nose has it!
O for Oak and Oxidation
P for Palate and Press
Q for Quality
R for Racking and Riddling
S for Sweet and Sanitary
T for Taste and Tasting
U for Ullage