Verjus (pronounced vair-ZHOO, aka verjuice) is the juice of unripe wine grapes used similarly to vinegar or lemon juice. While it has a similar acidity (this one has a pH of 2.75), verjus flavor is bright and subtly fruity, less likely to overpower other ingredients.
The word “verjus” originally derived from the French phrase “vert jus” (“green juice”). In order to ensure their vines concentrate as much sugar into as few grapes as possible (ultimately producing better wine), vintners routinely cull a large number of under ripe grapes early in the season. Verjus is pressed from those sour grapes, pulled from the vines six to eight weeks before the wine season, turning what would be waste into a delightful ingredient.
Green verjus (like this one) makes up the majority of verjus production, and is typically less sweet than less common red verjus.
This verjus is made exclusively from zinfandel grapes handpicked from 30-year old vines grown on estate vineyards in Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley – considered one of the best places to grow zinfandel in the world. The grapes are picked in the early morning to ensure the ideal temperature and texture for pressing. They are gently pressed immediately to ensure quality, and then the juice is bottled.
The history of verjus stretches all the way back to the medieval & renaissance eras. It was once a staple in French provincial cooking, but still plays an important part in Middle Eastern cuisines, notably in Iran (where it’s known as abghooreh), Syria, and Lebanon (where it’s known as hosrum). While it fell out of use in Europe in the 19th century, verjus has recently made a comeback in restaurants as fine dining chefs have rediscovered its refined, nuanced and complimentary flavor profile.