Artisan Vermouth Vinegar at the Deli

Excerpt from Ari’s Top 5 enews

Subtly sweet wine vinegar from a fifth generation producer

If you’re looking for a well-made, tasty wine vinegar for every day, the Deli has one that just might do the trick! It’s become one of my favorites over the past few years.

This unique vermouth vinegar is made by the Badia family in the small town of Mollerusa Lleida in Catalonia (just off the highway from Barcelona to Lleida, and due north of Tarragona on the coast). The family vinegar manufactory was started in 1908—six years after the Deli’s building was built—and the family is still working in the same space today. The company was founded by Augustin Badia and his great-granddaughter, Judit, runs the family business today. The Badia family had a small shop in the village to retail the vinegars (you can see some lovely old photos on their website. Check out Augustin’s amazing mustache) and from that, guided by their deeply held devotion to high quality, the family business has grown slowly but steadily to where it is today.

We have five different vinegars from the family in stock right now, but my favorite is this wonderful vermouth vinegar. The pale pink color of a good rosé, it’s converted from vermouth wine using the method developed by a German chemist named Sebastian Karl Schüzenbach all the way back in 1823. His idea was to develop a process that might be a bit quicker than the old Orleans method, but would still retain the integrity and interesting flavors of the wine during the conversion process. The Badia family has been using it for over a hundred years, so they know it well. There’s only one other vinegar maker that they know of who still uses it.

This fine vinegar starts with vermouth wine from the same region of Catalunya. The Badia family’s focus from the get-go has been to use only top-quality wines and then retain the complexity of flavors in the wine as it’s converted to vinegar. In this case, the quality of the wine comes through loud and clear. It’s eminently drinkable. Subtly sweet, enough to be mouth-watering and succulent, but also softly savory at the same time. While no herbs are added by the Badias, there are herbs used to make the vermouth. The finished vinegar has hints of absinthe, bay leaves, rosemary, and thyme. Lighter, less sweet, and a bit more delicate than a balsamic, the vermouth vinegar from the Badia family could very easily find its way into your everyday eating!

Judit Badia recommends pairing the vinegar with any seafood—squid, smelt, octopus, or shrimp. It’s definitely an excellent addition to seafood stews. It’s particularly nice on an oil-and-vinegar-based tuna salad: put together some of those wonderful white beans we get from the Spanish Basque Country, some diced Cristal peppers, and the Ortiz Yellowfin tuna, dressed with some good olive oil. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper! And, of course, the vermouth vinegar is superb simply added to green salads of all sorts. Definitely a delicious addition to any good cook’s pantry.