Vin de noix is something my French boyfriend's grandmother used to make when I lived over there (5 years in France, I miss it so much!). I got to taste this when we visited her in the Hautes Alpes. Apparently lots of French people make this at home every year, especially in Auvergne. It's nothing fancy. Just some alternative home liquor to try. I looked up online some old French recipes dating from late 1800's. I also looked up some modern recipes. Not much has changed in terms of spices used.
This year's nut wine is approximately 16% alcohol. Agave was used instead of sugar. The nuts have a slightly peppery almost tangy citrus flavor. The result, a very light almost tart liquor. Next year I'll try to make it a little higher in alcohol, but I'm sticking with agave, it tastes OK & it's healthier than drinking all that sugar they put in the commercial nut wines I've seen on the store shelves. Please let me know if you come up with any interesting recipes!
Base: 1/3 grappa, 2/3 dry white bordeaux. Next time: grappa is fine, don't add white wine since that dilutes the alcohol too much
Nuts: 1/2 of pot is filled with a mash of green walnuts. I picked in Brentwood (http://harvest4you.com). Next time: roast them first for more flavor
Spices: real African vanilla, nutmegs, anise flowers, huajiao (Szichuan flower pepper), agave, cinnamon stick, rosemary
Except agave, let all "simmer" together in the pot (~55F) for ~1 month, lid on. Stir 1x/week. End of 1 month, remove anise & cinnamon stick.
Add agave, leave 3 more months, lid slightly ajar. Keep it at low temperature in wine cooler (best ~55F) or refrigerator. Stir 1x/every 2 weeks.
Sanitize all equipment first using home canner (boil 12 minutes).
Filter loosely using chemex filters.
Sanitize bottles using home canner (boil 12 minutes). Sanitize corks by soaking in rubbing alcohol.
Bottle & label it! Next time: find better labels, I'm not sure I'm a fan of my home made labels with a ring of nut wine on them.
Note1: some sediments at bottom of bottle, don't worry, they're all natural! Best to keep in the refrigerator though and consume within 6 months, to be safest.
Note2: You have to make this wine when the walnuts are still young and tender. Varies by climate, but SF Bay area is approx May/June. Best to use right after picking, so the flavors & aromas are the freshest possible. Also best to pick your own in the early morning, so you know where your nuts have been!
Note3: for better accuracy, I should get my hands on an ebulliometer. With the lid slightly ajar for at least 2 months, a lot of alcohol floats out of the liquid.
Note4: visiting St. George spiritis, I learned that the higher the alcohol at the time of infusion, the more volatile aromas you can capture in your liquid. They use a still to achieve 95% alchohol. Next year I'm going to try using straight up grappa.