Sunday, November 1, 2015

Vin d'Orange

When family and friends gather—especially at the holidays—I like to offer my guests an age-appropriate libation. I just finished making a bottle of vin d’orange with a recipe from Pierre Koffmann’s Memories of Gascony (2012 revised edition published by Mitchell Beazley). Right or wrong, I consider year-end the best time to buy quality oranges and other citrus (at least here on the US West Coast). So now is the perfect time to get ready to make this quick aperitif.

1 liter white wine
zests of 2 large oranges
250g sugar
100ml Armagnac

Mix everything together in a large pot, cover and leave to infuse 12 days before drinking.

That’s it! This fortified wine smells and tastes of…surprise: oranges, but in a soft, graceful way. It is a lovely drink and couldn’t be easier to make. As is my practice when infusing lemons and grapefruit, I take care that the zest contains no pith. Other than this, success depends upon the quality of one’s ingredients.

For my latest batch I used a white Anjou wine made from Chenin Blanc grapes from France’s Loire Valley (because I couldn’t find a white from the Côtes de Gascogne at my local market…can you imagine that! What is this world coming to?!). And I used some nice apple brandy from Oregon as I did not have a bottle of Armagnac lolling about in the back of my liquor cabinet. What is Armagnac, you ask? It is a single distilled French brandy from, yes, Gascony, made from local white wine grapes. If you want to experience the vin d’orange of Pierre Koffmann’s childhood, by all means go with white wine and brandy from Gascony. But I advise that you not put off your infusion for fear of a lack of authenticity—your thirsty guests will never forgive you.