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Byrrh – French Aperitif

Byrrh is another of those peculiarly French concoctions of red wine, quinine water and spices from the Languedoc-Roussillon made at Thuir (66 Pyrénées Orientales, Languedoc-Roussillon). Reportedly it has a touch of bitterness and orange overtones and is best as an aperitif (similar to Dubonnet) or as part of a cocktail.

Byrrh label

Byrrh label

Since its creation at the end of the 19th century, quinine-flavoured Byrrh has contributed to the myth of French wine-based aperitifs. A 17° drink, witness to a whole chapter of French history, it is the ideal refreshment to give you a taste of Catalonia.
The cellars at Thuir can be visited to see the production process – and the largest oak barrel in the world (10002 hectolitres compared to a Bordeaux barrel of 255hl!).

A wine-based aperitif, Byrrh has the specific characteristic of being flavoured with quinine. Its alcohol content is 17°.
The basic grapes, mainly the Carignan and Grenache varieties from the hillsides of Roussillon, are transformed into mistelles (partly fermented grape juice), which are then blended with selected dry red Roussillon wines.

Byrrh is drunk as an aperitif. It is best served cool, at approximately 16°, and goes well with a twist of lemon zest or a little Crème de Cassis.

byrrh_barrelThe website, has a recipe for poached eggs in Byrrh! (and other less weird menu ideas!); but it is perhaps the recipe for Byrrh itself which seems so unusual – bitter orange peel, camomile, coffee, gentian, coriander, quinine, cocoa, vanilla and elderberries are just some of the ingredients added to fortified grape juice!

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