Is There Anything Verjus Can't Do?

Meet your culinary jack-of-all-trades—just don’t call it grape juice.

Somewhere between vinegar, wine, and sparkling grape juice sits verjus, a product made by pressing unripe wine grapes harvested early in the growing season. The journey from vineyard to bottle is short and sweet. (Unlike vinegar or wine, there's no fermentation.) But in verjus' simplicity lies boundless potential for nonalcoholic cocktails, marinades, vinaigrettes, and deglazers. Lately, some of our favorite winemakers have been giving verjus the same level of attention and care that they show their wines. The result? Five top-shelf bottles destined for your pantry.

Bottles of verjus
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Prissy Lee

Scribe Verjus of Pinot Noir

After fielding years of questions about the salad dressing served at Scribe winery's hacienda in Sonoma, chef Kelly Mariani dished on the recipe: 1/3 cup verjus; 1/2 shallot, diced; olive oil; salt; and white wine vinegar. Mariani loves the tart flavor it imparts on pears as a poaching syrup or as a mignonette on oysters. ($30, scribewinery.com)

Wölffer Estate Petite Rosé Verjus

If only all juice were made from Pinot Meunier, one of three noble grapes used in Champagne. It's full of floral aromas and notes of peach and strawberries; our ultimate summer sipper is equal parts rosé verjus and tonic garnished with a vermouth-brined olive from the cocktail pros at Jack Rudy. ($42 for 12 bottles, wolffer.com; $11 for 16-oz. jar of olives, jackrudycocktailco.com)

Fusion Verjus Rouge

This gentle, not-too-acidic red verjus is suffused with flavors like fig, prune, and black plum. Even better for cooking than drinking, it excels as a marinade for steak and veggie kebabs, or you can use it as a bright, fruit-forward substitute for Worcestershire sauce. Keep it refrigerated once opened and it should last a full month. ($18, formaggiokitchen.com)

Wölffer Estate White Verjus

Crisp green apple, lemon, and honey notes make Wölffer Estate's white verjus perfect for freezing into ice cubes and dropping into sangria. I also use it in place of vermouth in my favorite grilled cheese recipe from Three Owls Market in NYC—just drizzle onto caramelizing shallots, add cheddar, and you've got a decadent snack. ($12, wolffer.com)

Mikuni Wild Harvest Noble Verjus

This copper-toned, handcrafted Pinot Noir verjus comes from a single-source family farm in Oregon (where they know a thing or two about growing Pinot Noir). Just one teaspoon in olive oil makes a piquant dressing for roasting anything from carrots to fennel, and it also plays well with tonic as a refreshing spritz. ($28, food52.com)

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