Saturday, October 27, 2007

Diligent Patience

The Vin de Noix you can prepare at home takes a few months and sometimes as long as a whole year to come into its own, but the payoff is much better than any of that watered down industrial stuff on the market. Stamped with its “seal of approval”, the factory-made corner cut version is eons behind in quality what you can produce by carefully choosing the right ingredients and doing things with quality in mind over quantity or profit. The key is being able to identify what will withstand the test of time, and doing your best to shoot for your end result, even if it won’t fall fully into place for a while. The beauty of this nut wine is that Mother Nature works it, step by step, day by day. Your only work is the often difficult task of choosing quality, then the practice of patience.

Location, Location, Location. After provenance, even if your hands-on work is minimal, the wait and see is very good practice in itself. Do what comes naturally. Set a place aside for your nut wine. Go ahead and actively leave it alone. Set yourself a schedule for other pressing, more important things and practice faith in the choices you have made. Don’t judge a nut wine too early in the process. Don't shake it or stir it. Give it what it needs. Keep it sheltered from the heat, give it a little bit of air but protect it from dust. Eventually, your diligent patience will pay off. In my opinion if you aspire to make great nut wine, and your efforts are rewarded with good cheer even a year later, it is enough motivation in itself to continue on.

Imagine my surprise when we received a family guest from Loïc’s father’s side. She took a look at the jars I had set on a tray that I had removed from the safe, ready to strain and bottle. She told me that Loïc’s father used to do a Vin de Noix, it was something that he did before he and Brigitte had married and before Brigitte brought her mother’s family recipe for Vin d’Orange. It surprised me that he never mentioned this, not once, over the years, when presented with our version. My first reflex was one of puzzled exasperation. Why anyone would fail to mention such a thing? The subject of Vin de Noix is a wonderful topic of discussion as far as we are concerned. But perhaps there is more to the story than meets the eye. Perhaps in his mind it represents something he does not want to remember or reminisce about. Something dark. Sometimes you can tell more about a person by what they don’t say. His lengthy soliloquies are often about much less meaningful subjects. Therein lies a mystery that is worth setting aside to contemplate. It is rich enough to write down to think about later.

This year, I threw some roasted cocoa beans into the mix. It turned out to be a good decision. After a few months with the nuts, their flavor infused into but did not overpower the brew, which was what I was hoping for. It was like adding vanilla, which adds a certain depth of flavor, but does not play a deciding role in the overall theme. I will continue to use the cocoa beans in years to come, at least for a part of the batch.

The flavor of the wine has taken on its full natural nut flavor, with a hint of chocolate kicking in on the palate, like a lingering memory. It is pleasant to sip, even now. Very nice added to coffee. Months from now, when Mother Nature has done her work at mellowing the flavor, I think we’ll have a real winner on our hands. When Loic’s uncle’s family prepares their Genepi, they sweeten after the infusion. This summer, while the green nuts were steeping in their juice, I went to New York for a visit and came back with some real maple syrup. I added a tablespoon or two, just to give it that je ne sais quoi.

I found a Lumocolor permanent glasochrom 108 20-0. This is a permanent, non smear grease pencil that comes in different colors. I can write on my Vin de Noix bottles and it won’t smear off. A couple of experiments later, I had this year’s packaging.

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Anonymous Rachel said...

lovely bottling, Lucy.

10:28 PM, October 27, 2007  
Blogger Tace said...

BEAUTIFUL! I have to thank you again for inspiring my husband and I to try our own hand at making Vin de Noix. This was our first year and we are soooooooo happy we did it. It's AMAZING, like something you'd expect elves to serve. Rich and sweet and better than anything we ever BOUGHT! Not only does it taste lovely but the entire process was fun, you are so right about the scent. While it was waiting in the cupboard the first 2 months we kept opening the door to sniff because it was just delicious!

5:53 AM, October 28, 2007  
Anonymous elarael said...

After telling my mother about your recipe, she made it with the walnuts from her tree and is looking forward to tasting it for Thanksgiving in Washington state! Thank you so much, she is really enjoying the process!

Also, your bottles look brilliant. Great inspiration.

7:01 AM, October 28, 2007  
Blogger Aileen said...

Your bottle is beautiful! I wish we had local nuts so that I could try my own hand at Vin de Noix. But, inspired by your post last year, I experimented with the ingredients we do have - and have been loving that we have cloudberry cordial to offer to family and friends that make the trek to visit us. Now I shall see if I can't find a Lumocolor permanent glasochrom 108 20-0, to see if I can't start experimenting on decorating bottles for them to take home with them!

5:53 PM, October 30, 2007  

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