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DINING ON A DIME IN NAPA VALLEY VERJUS — JUICE OF THE WINE GRAPE
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VERJUS - UNFERMENTED JUICE OF WINE GRAPES

This Grape Juice Loves Wine

Where's more than one way to enjoy the juice from grapes in a gourmet meal. Drinking wine is the one we know best. But many home chefs are discovering another: verjus (pronounced vair-ZHOO and French for "green juice").

Verjus is the tart, unfermented juice of wine grapes. Used since the Middle Ages as a substitute for vinegar, verjus lends a curious, refreshing and acidic taste to sauces, vegetables, and fruits. Because it is not fermented, verjus complements rather than clashes with wine. This makes it a great substitute for vinegar in dishes, especially green salads, that are part of a complete wine dinner.

Verjus is pressed from grapes carefully picked at veraison, the time in summer when grapes begin to darken in color. Because all grape juice is the same color, Verjus can be made from both red and white varieties. France supplies most imported verjus to the United States, but several Northern California producers have created and marketed their own with excellent results.

Justin Miller and Karin Warnelius began making verjus under the Terra Sonoma brand after realizing that the wine grapes they cut off their Alexander Valley vines (to enable the remaining grapes to ripen more fully) could do more than rot in the sun. "The fruit that we were otherwise throwing to the ground in the middle of summer became verjus," says Warnelius.

According toTerra Sonoma, "VerJus" has a round, silky texture that heightens the flavors of foods and is a versatile cooking ingredient. Look for it at Jimtown Store and Anstead's Market in Healdsburg, Traverso's in Santa Rosa, Clos du Bois' tasting room in Geyserville, and Walt's Wharf Restaurant in Seal Beach.

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MAY/JUN 2005
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This Grape Juice Loves Wine


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