The breathtaking town of Banyuls-sur-Mer sits on the coast of the Mediterranean, on the scenic slopes of the Catalan Pyrenees, near the French Spanish border. On ancient vines grow plump, juicy grapes, from which Banyuls, the famous fortified vins doux (sweet wine) gets lovingly made.
The storied vines also yield one of the world’s finest vinegars: Le Vinaigre de Banyuls. Like the wine, Banyuls vinegar has the treasured A.O.C (Appellation d’Origine Controllee) distinction, which means that it gets produced according to strict French government standards. The French are serious about their beloved foodstuffs.
The wine spends its first year of aging in huge oak “foudres” (barrels) stored in cool cellars. It then is transferred to smaller barrels and moved outside, where exposure to the summer sun and the cold Pyrenees winter accelerate the aging process. After five years, it is filtered, bottled, and officially becomes Le Vinaigre de Banyuls.
Banyuls is sweet, nuanced, and wonderful. It has a distinct toasty nuttiness, and notes of vanilla, licorice, gingerbread, and plum. If your cupboards are bursting with Italian balsamic and Spanish sherry vinegar, this will be a welcome new addition. It’s a perfect gift for the food lover, or even the already-has-everything cook (the bottle is very lovely, too!).
Banyuls makes a mean vinaigrette. It will do your salad very, very well. Or for a show-stopping dish, use Banyuls vinegar to marinate chicken or fish, or to deglaze the pan after sauteing duck, mushrooms, sea scallops, or foie gras.
Tired of bringing wine to parties? If you’re shopping for host and hostess gifts, or even if you need to grab last-minute holidays gifts, head on over to Fairway to pick up this fine vinegar or one of Fairway’s other special vinegars that anyone would appreciate.
TELL US: What’s your favorite way to use an exceptional vinegar?