I was lucky enough to take a class from her at Sur la Table on preserving seasonal flavors. I had been pickling and preserving for years, but what she really turned me on to was making infused wines using seasonal ingredients. My Vin d'Orange—made from orange peels roasted until caramelized and then soaked in a mixture of red wine, vodka, sugar, and vanilla bean— has been a hit in our house for years, but I had yet to try any of her springtime recipes.
Her Vin de Peche, made with young peach leaves, sounded divine. Finding said leaves proved difficult. A call to my co-workers turned up an address for a tree near my house, only to find from the owners of the house that it was an apricot tree. I was in an experimental mode and unsure of whether I would find peach leaves, so I decided to use the apricot leaves in the Vin de Peche recipe. I used a dry Riesling, adding vodka, a vanilla bean, and a cinnamon stick. It will be ready to strain and bottle when we return from our Montana trip in late July.
In the meantime, my co-worker (extremely apologetic for missteering me) located what he was sure this time was a peach tree. Sophie and I retrieved leaves this afternoon, and they are now soaking in a Sauvignon Blanc. This batch will be ready for bottling in August.
Here are the two batches, running about a month apart. It will be fun to taste them side by side at the end of summer. And it will be even more fun to open a bottle in the middle of winter to savor a taste of summer past.
If you have a peach tree with fruit not yet ripened, give it a try. Here's the recipe.
VIN DE PECHE
6 cups young peach leaves, picked in early summer before any fruit has ripened, carefully rinsed and dried
5 bottles dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc or a French-style rose
1/2 quart vodka
2 cups granulated sugar
Combine all ingredients in a clean, dry glass jar. Cover and store in a cool, dark place for 45 days, stirring every day for the first week to ten days or until the sugar has dissolved. At the end of the 45 days, strain using a fine-mesh sieve lined with several layers of cheesecloth. Discard the leaves. Bottle and seal. [I like to use sparkling lemonade bottles with a ceramic caged top.]
Store bottles in a cool, dark place. The wine is ready to drink immediately but will keep for a year.
Serve slightly chilled or with ice cubes.