Make this delicious drink in late June or early July, when the walnuts are green and still soft enough to pierce, and start to enjoy it in September when it has macerated for long enough. Remember to wear gloves: the walnuts will stain your hands and surfaces at all stages. We can thank William Rubel for most of these instructions – except for the crucial part about wearing gloves!
2.5 litres red wine
0.5 litres eau de vie (or any high-proof alcohol: vodka, run, tequila, brandy)
12 large or 15 small green walnuts450g sugar, white or demerara
1 vanilla pod
2 or 3 walnut leaves
Large wide-necked jars with a capacity of up to 4 litres
Put on the gloves. Depending on the width of the necks of your bottles and the size of your walnuts, pierce them all the way through with a thick needle or chop them into quarters. Divide them equally between the jars and add the sugar, the wine, the eau de vie, the vanilla pod, and the walnut leaves if using.
Seal the jars, shake well, and store in a dark cool place for 40-60 days. Shake the jars occasionally during this time.
When you are ready to taste, strain the vin de noix into a clean bottle or decanter. Many people suggest straining all of it on the 60th day, but I have kept it for a year in its soaking state and it remains delicious. Serve in place of a dessert wine with cake-based puddings, or mixed with a little soda or lemonade as an unusual aperitif.