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Recipe for vin de noix and tasting notes

Vin de noix

Vin de noix

Even though you won’t be able to make this fortified wine until next June or July I’m posting the recipe now as vin de noix has a Christmasy feel. It’s definitely a winter tipple and decanted into pretty bottles would make a great Christmas present.

Traditional vin de noix (walnut wine) is made from young walnuts, red wine, distilled alcohol and sugar. These are walnuts that can easily be quartered and are just starting to form their shells. This is the reason why I made this wine initially. I’d left it too late to make pickled walnuts but had a bag of young walnuts knocking about in the kitchen
In France vin de noix is a celebrated countryside drink that is also used in cooking. There are loads of recipes on the Internet. The one that I chose was from William Rubel. I made my vin de noix in early August 2008.

Reading around the subject I’d noted that vin de noix is said to improve with age. As so often happens, in my haste to get the demijohn into the barn I did not note that the length of time for steeping the walnuts is generally around two months. I assumed that the longer the walnuts stayed in the mix the better the drink would be!

When I stepped into the barn, torch in hand, I had no idea that I had made this mistake. I was thinking about a little mid morning cheer. Eventually I unearthed the demijohn, dusted it off and removed the air lock. It smelt good and deeply alcoholic.  Standing under the looping cobwebs and probably watched by a thousand spider eyes, I took a tentative sip. It was delicious – almost like port.

A small glass was rushed up to the Rat Room for Danny.“Mmm It tastes great! Perfect for Christmas.”It would be glorious poured over ice cream and I have a feeling that it would be good if it was heated too.

I only discovered my steeping gaff when I was nosing about the Internet this week. Next year I will definitely be making this again. Steeping for just the customary two months. It will be interesting to compare the difference in flavour, if we have any left.

Walnut wine. Vin de noix recipe

One three litre box of red wine
600ml of vodka
600g of granulated sugar
30 walnuts (as some of them were very small)

Quarter the walnuts lengthwise (wear gloves as the walnuts will stain your hands and also avoid using a wooden board)
Place the walnuts in a gallon demijohn (or split them equally between large Le Parfait jars)
Add the sugar, vodka and red wine (I used a winemaking airlock to seal the demijohn)
Steep the wine for two months and then strain through muslin and bottle. Store in a dark place.

This recipe makes four litres of vin de noix .

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  1. Adele Schoenig

    Hello! After reading about vin de noix last year, I decided to have ago. I followed the recipe but unfortunately it didn’t say how long to steep it, just that it should be ready for christmas. So just after christmas, I strained it and tasted. I love port and was expecting something in that direction, but was very disappointed. Mine is very ‘flat’and has quite a bitter after taste. I wonder if anyone has any advice as to if I can make it taste better? Don’t really want to pour it down the drain!?

  2. Toffeeapple

    Thank you for your reply, it is appreciated.

  3. @Toffeeapple, this is a very late reply to your question but the idea is that the nuts are so young that there is essentially no shell. The shell forms as the green fruit matures, so while some nuts used in the maceration will probably be old enough to have a “proto-shell” that makes them somewhat hard, they’ll still have enough give to allow a knife to go through them.

  4. Wow, sounds great! I also live in New Zealand and left the picking too late this time. Will pick before Christmas this year and have a go.
    What can I use if I don’t have a demijohn?

  5. Toffeeapple

    I take it that when quartering the walnuts you include the shell in the liquid?

  6. I have been making vin de noix since I first tasted it in Martel, France, in 2000. Now that we live in New Zealand (where the walnuts are only just becoming ready for harvesting) we make a practice of collecting the nuts just before Christmas and then decanting the resulting wine in June (my recipe, from the walnut mill in Martel, calls for 6 months’ steeping). It is a phenomenal tipple, and never fails to impress!

  7. well, I might have to give this a go next year…but I did have a giggle at the thought of you and Danny downing a whole 4 ltres ….that WOULD be a very Merry Christmas !

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