The walnut wine is a traditional drink which was very popular in the past. This is not strictly a wine made from nuts. It is obtained by macerating green walnuts in wine and alcohol. Obtained after 40 days, a mild alcohol results as an aperitif or dessert.
The walnut wine is very popular in regions such as the Dauphine, the southern Alps, the Périgord, Limousin, the Ardennes and Flanders. This drink dark brown with a slight bitterness is generically not a wine because it does not ferment. This does not imply that this aperitif obtained by macerating green walnuts in wine and alcohol is not the most popular of imitation fruit wines.
The walnut tree is emblematic of Dauphine and Périgord where it is believed to carry both the power to bring good luck if the branches picked at St Jean are placed at the front door or bring misfortune to those who fall asleep in its shadow. Its production is often random. A proverb notes that when it rains on May 3, there is no hickory nuts. But if that same day, the sun is shining, the harvest will be good.
The walnut wine, drink very popular in households, was generally prepared in the home. It is known since the sixteenth century for its therapeutic qualities and since was considered a medicinal wine, drink tonic, digestive and depurative.Currently it is consumed as an aperitif, in some food preparations or support the desserts.
It is made with walnuts gathered from late June (noix de la St. Jean) to July 22 (noix de Sainte-Madeleine). The best ones are picked green for Saint-Jean, that is to say around June 24. They are still green and milky with very tender kernels.
The tradition has set a mnemonic recipe where the number 4 comes handy. To 4 liters of wine and 1 liter of eau-de-vie (optional) are added in 40 walnuts chopped in 4, with 40 pieces of sugar, and macerated for 40 days.
For homemade recipes, nuts are pressed whole. Kernels and juice are then mixed with alcohol and aged in oak barrels. The whole is then filtered and can be extended with a mistelle (sort of white wine).
In the Périgord, there is a wine made from dried nuts just picked that eliminates the bitterness from green walnuts. This preparation is always done on the basis of 40 nuts, 4 liters of wine and one liter of alcohol is again macerated for 90 days.
Distilleries et Domaines de Provence, based in Forcalquier in 1898 under the name Distillerie de Provence, manufacture and market aperitifs and liqueurs of tradition including walnut wine of Saint-Jean.
In the Limousin, the family that makes Denoix violet mustard from Brive, markets since 1839 its walnut wine.
In Brugge, Manoir des Flandres, marketing a walnut wine, traces its origins to 1277, when the first ship leaving Genoa loaded with spices entered the Flemish port.
This walnut wine into which enter green walnuts soaked in red wine, with bitter oranges, sugar, juniper berries, vanilla beans, is improved by alcohol of fruit or plants . After maceration, flavouring and aging are in made in oak barrels.
3 1/2 Liters of red wine
1kg of sugar
1/2 liter of brandy
1 orange cut into pieces
14 green walnuts (cut in half)
Mix it all in a big bowl or jar or sealed container
Stir properly every day for 40 days