Since we went to Italy last summer and I learned to make Limoncello, I have become enamoured of making my own interesting libations, including those served as apéritifs. Limoncello is usually drunk after a meal to aid in digestion while an apéritif is taken before a meal to stimulate the appetite. Apéritifs are popular throughout the Mediterranean and I am embracing my French roots. The most common apéritif we had on our trip was a mixture of Prosecco and Campari, but there are all kinds of other exciting possibilities to try.
Unlike cocktail hour in the United States, l'apéritif includes a light drink and some small delicious bites that really are an appetizer. Today I wanted to make a batch of Vin de Pamplemousse, a lovely citrus apertif. There are many recipes available, but the one I like best is a variation the one in Alice Water's Chez Panisse Fruit book. I combined that with some others, making adjustments for the available citrus fruits. It takes a little over a month to make before bottling.
Citrus fruits sliced and in large jar with sugar
Wine and vodka added
Now it has to sit until 27 July.
|Vin de Pamplemousse|
makes about 5 quarts
3 white grapefruit
3 Ruby Red grapefruit
2 Meyer lemons
2 blood or Valencia oranges
2" piece of vanilla bean, split lengthwise
6 (750 ml bottles) crisp white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
3 cups 80-proof vodka
1 3/4 cup sugar
Wash fruit and slice 1/2" thick. Mix all ingredients in a large container. Stir to dissolve sugar completely. Seal up and store in a cool place or refrigerator for at least 30 days, but not more than 40. For the first week, stir the vin de pamplemousse once a day. Then, about once a week, check how it's developing and give a stir. Taste periodically. If is too sweet, add more fruit and wine. If too bitter, add more sugar.
When done infusing, strain and toss out fruit. Allow to sit and settle (covered) untouched for a few days. Using several layers of cheesecloth, gently strain but stop pouring before you get to the cloudy part at the bottom. Repeat straining until very clear or you're satisfied. Place in clean wine bottles and close tightly with a cork. Will keep several months at cellar temperatures or longer in the refrigerator.
Notes: You can also use vanilla extract instead of whole beans with no adverse effects.