vin d'orange

This is kind of a cruel post, because I'm about to start raving about this incredible aperitif I brewed up, telling you how delicious, refreshing and unexpected it is. And then I'm going to have to tell you that it is made from sour Seville oranges. And then the part comes where I tell you the short growing season for this unlovable stepchild of the Navel is over.

I was fortunate enough to be inspired to try my hand at vin d'orange just towards the middle of March, and the oranges are typically impossible to get before January or after March. I got on the phone and made the kind folks at WF order me some, and after a few weeks of badgering, they finally came in.

Seville oranges are ugly. Splotchy and oddly shaped, they kind of resemble navel oranges that have been kicked around on the orchard ground for a week or so. And they don't taste good, either, with a bitter and unforgiving bite.

But. Let them sit in a fruity white wine, mixed with a little sugar and vodka and you get the delightful French aperitif, vin d'orange. Some make it with rose or even red wine, but the lightness of white is perfect for summer. It sits for a month and then becomes the most strangely delicious beverage. It has this haunting and addictive quality, with a light sweetness at first sip that finishes into bitterness. It will have you and whoever you share your precious homebrew with intrigued. I quadrupled the recipe and stored it in a Playmate cooler while brewing. Now I have almost a dozen half bottles that I will be rationing out to whomever I see fit....bribes accepted.

vin d'orange

1 lemon
3 seville oranges (aka sour oranges)
2/3 c sugar
5 c white wine
1 c vodka
1 inch piece of vanilla bean

Rinse and half citrus fruits. Mix sugar, wine and vodka until dissolved. Add vanilla and citrus. Cover, let stand for one month (at least). Strain, put in clean bottles. Stores one year.