Vin de pêche: Peach Leaf Wine

In the south of France, they’re pretty generous with les glaçons. It’s never any problem to get ice cubes, which are often brought to the table heaped in a bowl, and sometimes even already added to the rosé for you by the barman.

iced rosé

Contrast that with Paris, where a drink with ice may have one puny cube roughly the size of a Tic-Tac, languishing on the surface, tepidly melting away. Which I’ve always attributed to a couple of factors:

One was that space is an issue in Paris, and there was no room for an ice machine.

Another was that electricity is expensive and there’s was no budget for an ice machine.

And the other, as some people here have carefully explained to me, is that ice-cold beverages are bad for your stomach. It doesn’t seem to matter to them when I explain that in the twenty-two seconds a cold beverage passes through various passageways, that are roughly 37° or 98.6°F, that by the time it hits your tummy, it ain’t exactly gonna be freezing-cold after that journey.

Maybe it’s a problem with the metric conversion or something.
I don’t know.

Still, I’ve gotten used to less ice. (Although some of the logic around here is taking a bit longer to comprehend.) And each time I go back to the states, I’m stunned when the waitress brings over a tall glass brimming with so much ice there’s probably a tablespoon of drinkable liquid in there. I get brain-freeze just looking at it.

Sometimes I’ll ask for “No ice, please”, but I get that look like I’m from Mars from the staff, and I can see their minds start thinking; “Oh, just my luck. Why do I get all the jerks?…”

Vin de pêche is an excellent apéritif, and it begs to be served with plenty of ice. Lots of it, like they do in the south. It’s strong stuff and the ice not only chills it agreeably, but cuts the high-strength blend of red wine and brandy so you don’t get entirely plastered during l’heure d’apéro.

peach leaves marinating

I was going to post this recipe in a few weeks, when this batch of vin de pêche was corked up and ready to pour. But then I remembered that some of you folks live in diverse climates and young peach leaves, which should be used, might be ready right now. So I thought I’d just go ahead and post it, and our batches will be done together. I suppose I could’ve taken a photo of a glass of red wine, but that would be cheating.

If you don’t have access to a peach tree, ask a farmer at your local farmer’s market if they’ll bring you some. I’m pretty sure cherry or nectarine leaves will work, although I can’t vouch for any others. And of course, make sure the leaves are organic or unsprayed.

Peach leaf wine will keep for months in the refrigerator. Serve with a wide strip of colorful orange zest.

And plenty of ice—if available.

Vin de pêche
About one quart (1l)

I used a Saumur, but any inexpensive fruity red wine will work. Mine cost a whopping 2.85€. Apéritifs like this are meant to be made with cheap red wine, so no need to feel like a cheapskate. You can easily increase the recipe if you’d like to take advantage of the availability of young peach leaves, which give the wine a surprisingly tasty almond flavor.

Do check with your local cooperative extension first if you have any questions about whether your peach leaves are edible. Desert peaches (prunus andersonii) are not meant for consumption and should not be used.

  • 40-50 young peach leaves, unsprayed
  • 1 bottle (750ml) fruity red wine
  • 3 tablespoons Cognac or brandy
  • 7 tablespoons (90g) sugar

1. Wipe the leaves with a damp cloth to remove any grit or debris.

2. In a large, non-reactive container, mix together the red wine, peach leaves, Cognac, and sugar. (Don’t worry if the sugar isn’t quite dissolved; it will as it sits.)

3. Put in the refrigerator and let stand for ten days, agitating it once daily. After ten days, taste. If the almond flavor is to your liking, strain the vin de pêche into a wine bottle and put a cork in it. If it’s not quite there, let marinade another four days.

Vin de pêche will keep for at least six months in the refrigerator.

25 comments

  • Sounds delicious. I take it you remove the leaves after they’ve steeped for the week? Also, you’re looking for leaves that are basically still tender, right?

  • I made almost exactly the same recipe last month with cherry tree leaves. The French have a thing for making good use of leaves, which add an aggreeable hit of tannin and outdoorsyness to the wine, and it’s fun. I haven’t tried it with ice, though. I’ll do that tomorrow. Thanks!

  • Sounds like something to get plastered on during a hot and long summer’s night. I like it!

  • I’m so making this when it’s Summer here in Australia!

  • I also hate it when restaurants fill the entire water glass with ice. Even worse when it is in a wine glass. :) Once I had water served to me in a cocktail glass which was an ill omen. I then suffered through the most pretentious, expensive and badly executed meal of my life.

    That looks delicious – I will have to find some peach leaves at the farmers market tomorrow.

    :)

  • The peaches on my peach trees are the size of golf balls. Does that mean the leaves are not young enough?

  • Now I need to go raid a peach orchard. From where can ordinary people procure 40-50 organic peach leaves? I belong to a CSA so I will start there and then try Union Square (although I believe most of the peaches are not organic, just local). If I can’t find anything there, I am stumped. If they are IPM instead of organic will that do?

  • Ian: You strain the mixture in step #3, and that’s when the leaves take leave from the wine.

    Linda H: The leaves should be tender and green, not tough and brittle.

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  • Hmm. Our peach leaves have been out for a couple months now, though the peaches aren’t yet ripe (maybe 3-4 more weeks?). I wonder…

  • in the south , we need ice cubes !! Otherwise we “die ”

  • Growing up in FL and Cali, I’m used to lots of ice. I can’t live without it actually, even in Winter in Ontario, I still use tons. Canada isnt really big on ice though so I always have to ask or extra or a separate glass. I remember when I was in England in 1996, I was stunned to see the lack of ice. I took to making my own in the hostels and carrying it with me in a little cooler( told you I love ice).

  • Do the peach leaves actually add a peachy taste, or just an almond bite? Do you ever see a peach slice in the glass? This is a great recipe, thank you.

  • “Contrast that with Paris, where a drink with ice may have one puny cube roughly the size of a Tic-Tac, languishing on the surface, tepidly melting away.”

    Except for ‘happy hour’ when the drinks are 90% ice!

  • Ha ha! I love that—so that’s where all the ice around here is going…

  • So true about Paris happy hour! The drinks look like “slushees”.

    I am definitely going to try the vin de peche. Thanks, David!

  • my mother in law makes something like that but with myrtill leaves. She said that it can be done also with other berries.

  • I had a delicious dessert souffle today at Le Souffle and was offered Vin de peche to drizzle on. It was aromatic without being overly alcoholic. Can’t wait to have more;

  • non non David, ce n’est pas que les liquides glacés sont mauvais pour l’estomac – ils sont très mauvais pour les dents (l’émail des dents est fragile et pourrait se fêler si on mange quelque chose de chaud avec une boisson glacée!).

    Never mind that Americans have been drinking lots of ice for all their life and that teeth seem to be mighty fine. But that’s what one hears when growing up.

    Vin de peche is very nice made with white wine too. My grandmother used to make it using the leaves from the small “vine peach” trees – a varietal that was planted with grapes and other small fruit
    .
    Thank you for this most timely (summer’s here) recipe.

    Sylvie R.

  • The Perigourdins would say, and I agree, that it is best made in August and with a Bergerac moelleux. Delicious.

  • The property next to ours, out in the bucolic countryside, has a number of unloved peach trees. Since I’m tending to their hanging flower baskets during their vacation, and since it’s been an unseasonably-cool Summer, I suspect that harvesting a hundred or so young peach leaves should not be difficult. I’ll take George Crocker’s recommendation of the Bergerac under advisement, since it’s easily available here in Ann Arbor. I’m going to use a sun-tea sort of vessel, with that lovely spigot toward the bottom for convenient serving without removing it from the nice cold fridge!

  • Hmmmm, my neighbor lady used to always make that with a white wine but I remember she would put the leaves in alcool à 90 for a few days and then add the wine and sugar. I think that’s how she made her vin de noix aussi. And it seemed like more than 3 Tbs. But then… she was making in quantity!

  • Made this over the summer and it rocked. I’m wondering if you have a suggestion for a type of white wine to use instead of the red — just wanted to try it & see.
    I’m so happy your site is back up. Thank the cybergods.

  • I would be wary of using white wine, as it might turn an unappealing color. Maybe try rosé? But if you do use white (or rosé), please let me know how it turns out.

  • I’ll definitely give this a try next spring. I’m a no fear eater/drinker. There was considerable kerfuffel a few years back when horses in the bluegrass country were inexplicably dying-arsenic poisoning was blamed from their having eaten cherry leaves. That gives some credence to the old saying: “…enough to kill a horse.” But nobody ever told us how much we could eat. People seem to build up an immunity if arsenic is taken in small doses. I think it would take a huge amount of of arsenic or cyanide to bother a human. Seems as though many leaves and kernels from fruit trees contain minute amounts. I think we’ve become way too fearful. People have been making such cordials for centuries with no adverse effects;in fact it seems to be beneficial to the health of the skin and hair. I am a bit wary of those cordials containing vipers you see in the country in France. That having been said (and I appologize if it blighted anyone’s day), what I would like is to find a peach tree one often encounters in France-the peche de vin-they used to plant them in vineyards. The flesh is shot through with the color of dark red wine. If anyone knows where it is obtainable in this country I’d love to know.