Banyuls, My New Obsession
In cooking for my cookbook, I went through a slew of different ingredients and techniques, played a lot, and intensely focused on flavor for my dishes. I had used fortified sweet wines like Port and Sherry in the past, but Banyuls was a new experiment for me, and I had to share with you guys. It’s a wine from the southeastern portion of France, called Banyuls-sur-Mer, very close to Spain, and it adds ridiculous flavor and depth to sauces, stews and marinades.
The wine is made primarily from Grenache grapes, harvested in the fall during peak sweetness, and result in wines that range in color from blond to red (most common). It’s aged in oak barrels for at least 12 months. What makes a wine “fortified” is that a spirit is added during the wine making process. Here, alcohol is added to stop the fermentation process of the grapes, a process called mutage.
But really – how does it taste? For me, the flavor is reminiscent of baked stone fruits, with chocolate, caramel and even tobacco notes intermingling. It’s complex and sweet, and is the type of dessert wine you’d pair with a foie gras or a caramel tart. The vinegar made from the wine, Banyuls vinegar, is equally intriguing – a delicate, deeply flavored concoction that falls somewhere between a balsamic and sherry vinegar.
Chicken or pork recipes that call for a bit of deglazing with wine are beautiful with Banyuls – I used it in a chicken and biscuits recipe in my cookbook where the stew had meaty mushrooms in it. It’s delicious to marinate steaks and to poach fruit for a chutney or even a dessert – think: Banyuls poached figs with ice cream (yum!). Let me know if you’ve ever cooked with it and what you made!