In my most recent post, I neglected to provide an update on the specifics of a nocino comparison experiment. In 2015, I decided to compare nocino made with three different infusion media: grappa, brandy, and red wine. In early 2016 I made the three different infusions the basis for a Kingdom Arts & Sciences project. Over the course of 2016, I had many individuals taste the 3 different infusions as well as the “original” vodka-based nocino.
Why red wine? In Nocino Part IV, I speculated that prior to the widespread use of distillation procedures, nocino may have been made with a common beverage such as wine. Many medicinal remedies in the Middle Ages were wine-based. So, I chose a generic red wine as one of my infusion media.
The results of many tastings were interesting. I don’t have actual “data” but tasters overwhelmingly thought the red wine infusion was desirable. Some tasters mentioned the lower alcohol content as a major factor in their preference for the wine-based nocino. Others suggested that the red wine complimented the flavors of the green walnuts. A few people also expressed a liking for the brandy-based nocino over the “traditional” vodka-based infusion. So, it appears as if the wine-based nocino is a clear “winner” over distilled media infusions.
When my 2016 shipment of Persian walnuts arrived at my home I was off to Lilies War. My lady Simone (Lady Solange de Grimfells in the SCA) constructed three different batches of nocino: vodka, brandy, red wine. Instead of white refined sugar we used dark brown sugar. We are anxious to give this batch a taste in the near future.
One of my goals that still remains to be fulfilled is the “oaking” experiment that I mentioned in Nocino IV. That one will have to wait until after my retirement in May 2017!