Days of Wine and Peaches

Last summer, leafing through the classic Simca's Cuisine, by Simone Beck (Knopf, 1972), I came across a recipe for vin de peches d'Arlette, described as "light red wine with an elusive taste of almonds imparted by the leaves of peaches". Intrigued, I managed to get my hands on 120 young peach leaves from my local farmers' market. Following Beck's counsel, I washed and dried them, added them to two quarts of good red wine, and stashed the bottle in a cool place for a week. Then I fortified it by dissolving 2 cups of sugar in a cup of the wine over low heat (not letting it boil), pouring the mixture back into the wine, and adding half a cup of cognac. When I sampled it, there were the almonds—in both flavor and aroma. I stuck the wine in the back of the refrigerator, and enjoyed it long after the peach trees had shed their leaves.