Vin d'orange is a delicious, refreshing, and slightly bitter (but not too bitter!) fortified orange wine that's easy to make at home. It does require you to move fast, though, as Seville oranges — the primary ingredient for vin d'orange — are just in season a short while from December to the end of February. Hurry up! It's worth it!
Vin d'orange is a slightly sweet, slightly bitter fortified wine traditionally made in Provence using Seville oranges. It's classically served in the summer over ice or in small glasses, aperitif-style. Vin d'orange can also be used in cocktails instead of Lillet or sweet vermouth.
Every year in January or February, when the Seville oranges show up in my local grocery store, I make up a batch of vin d'orange. Seville oranges are a variety of citrus that used to be grown only in Seville, Spain, but now grow throughout the Mediterranean and have also been successfully cultivated in California. They have a deep orange flavor that is accented by their bitterness and are also the classic choice for orange marmalade.
Seville's aren't easy to find, but you could try asking your greengrocer to special order a case and split it with some friends. Here in the Bay Area, you can find them at Monterey Market, the Berkeley Bowl, and Bi-Rite Market. But hurry, as their season usually ends in February.
Besides Seville oranges, you will also need to source a glass or stainless steel container that is large enough to hold 4 liters of liquid plus your fruit and sugar. (This 6-quart Cambro would be an excellent choice.) It's also ok to divide the mixture between two smaller containers.
Also, think about what bottles you will be decanting the vin d'orange into. Most people just clean and save old wine bottles. If you cork them with T-corks (half-corks topped with a plastic disk, available at places like Northern Brewer), then you don't have to get involved with a corking machine. Swing-top bottles work very well, too. You can even use mason jars.
If your pocketbook allows, a sublime vin d'orange can be made from rosé wine, but most people I know go for whatever white wine is most affordable. I use one of those three-liter boxes of Trader Joe's basic white wine with excellent results. Don't forget, you are adding sugar and vodka to this mix, so anything too fancy is a big waste.
After the vin d'orange is bottled, it needs to age for several months in a cool dark place. Not to despair! If you make it now, it should be ready for those hot summer nights when a cool glass of vin d'orange on the patio is the perfect way to start the evening. Even better, forget that you even have the vin d'orange for another year or two and you will be greatly rewarded with a perfect, deeply mellowed elixir of the gods. A reward that far exceeds your efforts!
Note: Although I have been making vin d'orange for several years now, this recipe owes some allegiance to the one posted by my friend Samin Nosrot on her blog Caio Samin. Thank you, dear Samin!
Vin d'orange just takes a few minutes to put together, but it will require 30 to 40 days to steep and a few months longer to age.
How To Make Vin d'Orange
Makes around 4 liters
What You Need
3 liters white (or rosé) wine
750 milliliters vodka
1 pound sugar
8 Seville oranges, washed
1 small lemon, washed
1 small orange, washed
1 vanilla bean, split
5-quart or larger glass, stainless steel, plastic or enamel container with cover
Long-handled spoon for stirring
Chef's knife and cutting board
Paper coffee filter, optional
Bottles for storage (see Recipe Notes)
Dissolve the sugar in the alcohol: Pour the wine, vodka, and sugar into the container and stir to dissolve the sugar completely.
Cut the fruit: Cut all the fruit in half, then cut the halves into quarters.
Add the fruit to the alcohol: Stir the alcohol mixture to make sure that all the sugar has dissolved. Add all the fruit and the vanilla bean. Stir again.
Cover and store for 30 days: Cover the container and store it in a dark, cool place for 30 days. Stir every now and then.
Taste to check the flavor: After 30 days, taste a spoonful of the vin d'orange. It should taste of orange with a slightly bitter edge. It may need to sit for several more days, up to 40 days total.
Strain the vin d'orange: Strain the vin d'orange through a strainer lined with a few layers of cheesecloth. Optional: For a clearer vin d'orange, strain it again through a paper coffee filter, changing filters as they become full.
Bottle and store: Decant the strained vin d'orange into bottles. Seal, label and store in a dark cupboard for a few months to age. Or for a few years, if you can wait that long!
Serve the vin d'orange: Serve over ice, garnished with an orange wedge or straight up in small wine glasses as an apéritif. Vin d'orange is also good as a cocktail ingredient. Store opened bottles of vin d'orange in the refrigerator.
- Save old wine bottles throughout the year for your vin d'orange. Seal with T-corks (re-usable corks topped with plastic disks, available at places like Northern Brewer) so that you can push them in with your thumb. You can also use swing-top bottles or mason jars.
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(Image credits: Dana Velden)