It rained hard in these parts all day today. The distant hills were smudged with mist and the low steel grey sky felt oppressive. The short time I spent in the sun-kissed South of France, in May last year, now seems centuries ago. Occasionally as an antidote to dull days I recall the clear blue skies, the shimmering azure sea and the colourful food markets of Provence. One memory of the holiday has hooked itself crochet like into my mind; it is the taste of the orange wine, which is a speciality of the region. Now that Seville (marmalade) oranges are in season I decided to make a batch of Vin d’ Orange.
I found a recipe in Mireille Johnston’s ‘French Cookery Course: Part Two’ which yields about ten pints (5.5 litres). I wasn’t sure how I would get through such industrial quantities of orange wine so I made a smaller amount. Here’s the recipe, for the full quantity, which you might also like to scale down.
5 Seville oranges (or 7 regular oranges and rind of one oven dried orange)
Rind of 1 lemon
2 pints/1.2 litres of brandy (45% alcohol content)
6 pints/3.4 litres of red or rosé wine
2lbs/900 g sugar
2 vanilla pods split in half
First wash the oranges, then cut them into small pieces removing only the pips. Put the chopped up oranges into a large glass jar, together with the lemon rind, brandy, wine, sugar, and the vanilla pods. Close the jar tightly and leave in a cool, dark place for about six weeks, stirring every few days. When the six weeks are up, strain and pour the wine into bottles and store in a dark cupboard.
Serve chilled as an apéritif or dessert wine.
Note: Unless you have a very large glass jar you will need to divide the ingredients between two or three jars. I have to fess up that this is an experiment and I have never made orange wine before today! However I cannot see what could go wrong once the recipe is followed. I would add as a caveat that it’s probably best to use a good quality wine, as the process will not transform undrinkable plonk into nectar.
À votre santé.