Christmas has it's traditional flavours we all recognise and we admit walnut wine may not be one. For us, alongside the mistletoe and cloves, there's something different.
In our house, the aromatic scent of walnut wine is a bit of a tradition.
It all goes back to France where we spent many Christmas holidays growing up. There, Walnut Wine or vin de noix is more of a tradition.
So much so that the French even have a specific day when they believe the walnuts are just right. That day is June 24th, Saint John’s day. It's the traditional day across France that walnuts are picked for walnut wine.
The reason being that the shells on the nuts have not quite formed - allowing the skins of the nuts to masticate beautifully - more often than not, just in time for Christmas.
This year for the first time, on a hot June evening, we decided to give it a go.
With a trug full of walnuts we went with the following recipe:
6 liters of good red wine
1 liter of Armagnac
40 green nuts
1.5kg brown sugar
2 vanilla pods
1 cinnamon stick
Cut the nuts into halves or quarters with a sharp knife so that they enter the bottle. If you are picking the nuts at the right time of year they should be soft enough to slice through.
Place them all on a demijohn and pour over wine, spirit, sugar and spices. Stir well.
Store it in a cool dark place. During the first week, stir every day and then about once a week for 10 weeks.
At the end of 10 weeks, taste and if you think it's ready decant into bottles and wait until at least Christmas...if you can!