Jam or cordial, this is pretty much what it boils down to when deciding what to do with bitter oranges. However, this year I wanted something a bit different. The cordial was just fine, in fact more-than-fine (it disappeared in record time), but I’m always on the lookout for new combinations to try. Enter David Lebovitz and his version of the Provençal aperitif vin d’orange.
This wine is in fact a slightly sweet, slightly bitter fortified orange wine which is fairly easy to make – as usual, the tricky bit is sourcing the main ingredient, bitter oranges (also known as Seville oranges) – they are in season from late December until early-mid February. So, why then are you telling us about this aperitif now, you may be wondering. Because the end result is a wonderful summer-time refreshment and I really can’t wait for half a year to share this with you. So, bookmark this post or send yourself a boomerang e-mail set for January (love, love, love this little gmail add-on) and next summer, you’re in for a treat!
At the moment, I’ve got about a litre of vin d’orange left as I have given away most of it to friends and family to taste. So far, they seem to like it and here comes the recipe by popular demand. I used the same ratio as David Lebovitz for the basic ingredients (wine, vodka, sugar), but improvised a bit regarding the rest. I had some lovely star anise in the cupboard to thought it a shame not to put it to use. Also amped up the vanilla content a bit and didn’t use the whole lemon, but rather just the peel (pith removed).
VIN D’ORANGE (FORTIFIED ORANGE WINE)
- 1,5 l white or rosé wine
- 200 ml vodka
- 250 g sugar
- 4 bitter oranges, washed and quartered
- the peel of one small lemon (just the yellow part, pith removed)
- 2 vanilla beans, split
- 2 star anise
- 2 small cinnamon sticks
Pour the wine, vodka, and sugar into the container(s) (a large mason jar is best) and stir to dissolve the sugar completely.
Add all the oranges, lemon peel, vanilla beans, star anise and cinnamon sticks. Stir again.
Cover the container and store it in a dark, cool place for 30 days. Stir every now and then.
After 30 days, taste the vin d’orange. It should be slightly bitter, but if the flavor hasn’t developed fully, it may need to sit for several more days, up to 40 days total.
Strain the vin d’orange through a strainer lined with cheesecloth and then funnel into bottles.
Serve over ice (an absolute must!), garnished with an orange wedge if desired.
Unopened, the vin d’orange does not need to be refrigerated, but before serving, I like to chill it.
To make liqueurs and fortified wines, it is best to have some large mason jars (two or three, volume of about 1.5 or 2 liters – this should do for all average home cooks’ needs.)