During a wine and food pairing at the Kendall-Jackson Wine Center, I tried a tiny cup of homemade soda made from pear and verjus, the unfermented juice from wine grapes that are picked and pressed when slightly underripe. It was served as a palate cleanser between the savory food and dessert, but it was so nicely balanced—tart from the verjus, sweet from the pear, with a hint of honey aftertaste—that it would be nice on its own. It has a fairly substantial amount of body, so I can also see it served as a very light dessert instead of a beverage.
If you’ve got a seltzer bottle, you can make it at home. They obviously use Kendall-Jackson verjus at the winery, but I don’t see why it couldn’t be made with whatever brand of verjus you can locate, so long as it’s made from Chardonnay grapes. (I’ve bought Navarro Vineyards’ version in the past and liked it for cooking.) I’m looking forward to experimenting with other fruit as more stuff comes into season and maybe trying to work this idea into a cocktail at some point—I wonder what would happen if I substituted booze for the water?
Pear and Verjus Soda
By Ryan Pollnow, pastry chef, Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates
1 1/4 cups pear purée
1 cup Chardonnay verjus
1/4 cup honey
3/4 cup water
Place all ingredients in a blender and mix on high. Strain through a fine mesh strainer and pour into a seltzer charger. Charge with one carbon dioxide cartridge. Allow the soda to rest in the charger for at least one hour before dispensing. Serve in a chilled glass and enjoy.