Skin 'n' Juice

Grape must holds the key to flavor

"Must" might not sound like much.

But the puny name belies large flavor: The word is used to describe the juice and pulp that result from pressing grapes, the step that occurs before straining and fermentation during winemaking. Must is an ingredient that has chefs, brewers and bartenders in a tizzy.

For those who like grandeur, this untamed liquid has a few sexy aliases.

At Aldea in New York, it goes by the Spanish name of arrope; the juice is cooked into a syrupy jam and added as a garnish to a pisco sour. Ditto at Clink in Boston, where it is drizzled over a torchon of foie gras.

Find it by its Italian name, saba, in Los Angeles, as part of a sweet dressing on an arugula salad at Suzanne Goin's quick-service joint the Larder.

But to the brewers at Dogfish Head brewery, it's simply grape must, and a key ingredient in its new wine-beer hybrid, Noble Rot. Unfermented juice from Viognier grapes blends with Pinot Gris, pils and wheat malts for a Belgian-style ale that is among the first in a hybrid genre.

It would seem that there is plenty in a name, after all.