Make Your Own Aperitif With Oranges and Shitty Wine

Make Your Own Aperitif With Oranges and Shitty Wine

Vin D’orange is so exquisite, I made it over and over, using the bounty of backyard fruit given to me by people with citrus trees. As I polish off winter back home in NYC, I’m California dreaming about the informal yard produce exchange network, and how it influenced my culinary habits for the better. Any extra fruit or wine went into a jar to make Vin D’Orange — a waste saving hobby with a limoncello-like reward.

While limoncello can be too strong and cloying, this light concoction hits the spot by being easy to make (as long as you have the ingredients available), and gluggable. Limoncello or Orangecello are actually more hands-on in comparison; there is no zesting needed for this easy, peel-less project.

The Basics

With a ratio of two bottles of wine for every six medium (or four large) oranges, you can start today. While it takes 40 days to come to fruition (how catholic), the only thing you’ll need besides oranges and wine is sugar, vodka (or another high-proof spirit), and time.

To make your new favourite spring drink, simply dissolve ½ cup sugar into the wine and add ⅔ cup of vodka. Clean and quarter the fruits and pack them into a few large jars, then cover with the wine mixture. For added mould protection, put a Ziploc on top and fill the bag with water to press the fruit under the surface of the wine, but this isn’t necessary if the wine covers things completely.

Steep for 30-40 days, then strain and enjoy refrigerated. While Nosrat’s version uses bitter Seville oranges, they’re not as easy to come by in the backyard, so use whatever oranges are on hand. Her blog also has more tips to adjust the balance as you go, but I never checked mine and it always slapped.

Other Waste Reduction Tips

Some might take offence to infusing wine in the first place, despite this being a traditional Spanish aperitif, but here’s the real trick: Use this recipe to get rid of wine you didn’t like, and don’t be afraid to mix and match. I was able to repurpose an entire case of wine I didn’t care for, which was certainly better than letting it sit there, unconsumed, for who knows how long.

Volume is your friend–grabbing up both fruits and wine on sale is the best way to make this as cheaply as possible, especially if you aren’t regularly handed bushels of oranges or cases of homemade wine. Box wines are great for this, as you can purchase up to three litres at a time, so you can make about half a five-gallon bucket’s worth with two boxes and a bag of fruit, which would yield about eight bottles of the finished stuff.

Make it Yours

This recipe is infinitely customisable. I’ve made it with grapefruit, kumquats, limes, and Meyer lemons, and even used grappa as the fortifier, and it still came out absolutely incredible. If you live near a shop with unique produce and want to get fancy, throwing in rare citrus like Buddha’s hand or adding some fresh herbs can take things to a whole other level.

Try making a batch with rosé, and another with Pinot Grigio. I’ve even used the previous night’s open bottle of Prosecco when I didn’t want to drink it, just because it was there, and it worked. You can beat this recipe into whatever shape you want, and as long as you add sugar and fortify it, it will be safe to drink no matter how it tastes. Fortify with pretty much anything you want, but keep in mind that the flavour will come through in the final formula, so unless you are positive you want to taste gin, whiskey, or rum, go with a neutral spirit.

If you aren’t in a fruit-forward state, the closest shop-bought thing to this DIY is Mommenpop’s line of citrus aperitifs. They nail the sippable, mixable magic of the homemade product with a few different citrus-y profiles to try, for those of us that don’t have citrus fruit growing outside our windows.

Another way to make this your own: serve in ways that fit your preferences. Drinking it chilled and neat is perfectly enjoyable, but it’s darling in a spritz, a Negroni, or simply with a splash of soda. Your personal formula would make an excellent party favour, signature drink base for a special occasion, or family activity to use up your lawn’s harvest, if you happen to live in one of those lucky states.

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