Last June my neighbors and I gathered buckets of green walnuts from the enormous old walnut tree that anchors the far southeast corner of our property. Armed with sharp sturdy knives and 3-liter cardboard boxes of Syrah and bottles of cheap vodka, we set out on a mission for the future: to bring warmth and cheer to our winter's hibernation by shoring up our supplies of homemade vin de noix and nocino. The process is simple but it takes a while for the walnuts to infuse in the alcohol and the flavors to mellow and deepen, so these tipples really don't come into their own until December. Until now.
As the frigid winds of the north swept in through the cracks and gaps of my apartment's old windows, I raised a full-to-the-brim glass of vin de noix and gave a hearty thanks to the wisdom and enthusiasm of our summer selves.