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.
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.
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.