Red wine is the thing that has the most things in it that aren't in it. It's full of stuff that's never been anywhere near it. Pencil shavings. Charcoal grilled steak. Leather saddles. No one knows how any of it gets in there when none of it's in there. But it's there. Coffee. Chocolate. Road tar. Spices. Citronella. Dog food. Vanilla. Running shoes. Figs. Bubblegum. Fur.
So when you're opening a bottle, you don't have much control over where you're going to be drinking it. You might end up having a dinner party in a saddle room on a cowboy ranch. Or what you thought would be a bit of stress relief on a Wednesday night might turn into a rampage through a lavender field. A Friday night house party in a Dairy Milk factory or a Sunday lunch in a reindeer rug shop in Oregon. Just be glad you didn't get the sweaty buzzy night with the mosquitos or shoes of the guy who's training for the marathon. Our bottle had no choice but to smell of berry fields, orchards and spices, because it was poaching strawberries, raspberries, peaches and cherries, with orange peel and and cinnamon sticks. It was always going to be outnumbered. This recipe is from Florence Knight's One, which I've blogged about here before.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time 15 minutes
Marinating time 2 hours
1 litre red wine
100ml ginger wine
6 heaped tbsp honey
2 black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
1 unwaxed orange
2 ripe peaches
Put the wines, honey, peppercorns and cinnamon stick in a medium saucepan over a low heat, and use a vegetable peeler to add a few pieces of orange peel. Warm the mixture slowly to dissolve the honey then bring the crimson wine to a rolling boil for five to eight minutes.
While the liquor is simmering, bring a small pan of water to the boil and plop in the peaches. Remember to mark shallow crosses on their bottoms before they go in. After a few minutes, remove the peaches, douse them in cold water and peel back their furry skins. It should come away quite easily.
Now cut them in half and remove the stone. While you're at it, pip the cherries and hull the strawberries leaving them with as much of their natural shape as possible.
Take the liquor pan off the heat and add the peach halves and cherries. Cover with a piece of greaseproof paper and a plate to weigh it down and leave to cool.
Once cool, add the raspberries and strawberries and leave everything to marinate at room temperature for a couple of hours before you serve.