The newest addition to my list of favorite kitchen staples is a California company’s take on a centuries-old byproduct of winemaking called verjus. Verjus (pronounced vehr-ZHOO) is the unfermented juice of under-ripe top-quality wine grapes—from the Napa Valley, in the case of the verjus I’ve been using from a company called Fusion. The light, sweet-tart juice doesn’t have any of the acetic acid of vinegar, making it perfect for wine-friendly salad dressings (use 1 part verjus to 3 parts oil).
In fact, Fusion verjus is a great substitute anytime I might use vinegar, wine, or lemon juice. For example, it makes a fine marinade for meat, poultry, and seafood, and I love to make a quick pan sauce by deglazing with verjus. I also find myself drizzling a bit over vegetables and fish off the grill or adding a splash to pep up the flavor of stews, soups, and braises.
Fusion produces white and red verjus; use the white for delicate foods (especially fish and vegetables) and pair the red with more robust, spicier fare. Fusion verjus is filtered and pasteurized before bottling in a corked 375ml bottle. Once opened, it lasts for a month in the fridge. It’s available ($9 per bottle) in kitchen specialty stores.