here. He was extremely knowledgeable about wine, very pleasant and he writes articles for Italian wine magazines – in Italian, no translator required! As I expected Max took us to some great wineries and they were very tiny – definitely off the beaten path. Some were so tiny they did not even have signage on the road. We got to meet the winemakers and the tastings were beautifully arranged, courtesy of Max.
I could go on about the wine but I want to tell you a little about a great product that our first vintners introduced to us. The first wine makers we visited, Karen and Justin, run a tiny two person operation called Garden Creek Ranch. They have a second company, Terra Sonoma, which produces two food products, verjus and saba. Verjus is produced when the vines are thinned to allow the grapes destined for wine to ripen properly. Rather than discard the semi-ripe wine grapes, Karen and Justin press them to create verjus – an acidulant which can be used for cooking, in place of lemon juice or vinegars. They offered us a little sip and it was quite yummy – acidic, but not biting like a vinegar or sour like lemon juice.
You can use verjus in salads, in marinades, drizzled over fruit the way you might use aged balsamic and for deglazing pans for sauces. So far I used it in a marinade for pork tenderloin and in a simple vinaigrette – olive oil, Dijon mustard and the verjus. Delicious over a simple green salad! They didn’t have any saba on hand for sale but we have some on order. I will create a post on the saba as soon I get my hands on some.
Happy weekend everyone!