Slices of cool fresh peaches are served in wineglasses with a nectar-like wine syrup and surprisingly concentrated flavors. This is one of the more intriguing fruit desserts you’ll taste, and there’s nothing to it merely peaches, sugar, wine and an interesting technique. Some country people still use this old trick for making decent fruit taste better and superb fruit luscious. Macerating sliced peaches with sugar permeates them with sweetness and concentrates their flavors while drawing out their juices and turning them into a nectar-like syrup. Then, marinating the fruit in wine releases still more tastes, because certain flavors are soluble only in alcohol. Farmers may not have known the science of this technique, but they knew a day of steeping in sugar and wine in a cool cellar gave the family splendid fruit for after supper.
Cook to Cook: If peaches are ripe, often peeling is simply a matter of pulling back their skin with a sharp knife. If need be, dip peaches very briefly in boiling water. The goal is solely to loosen their skins, never to cook the fruit at all, as its character would change drastically. Nectarines can be used instead of peaches.
4 large ripe, fragrant peaches or nectarines, peeled, pitted, and sliced into about 8 wedges each
5 to 8 tablespoons sugar
About 1 cup dry white wine (such as Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, or Arneis)
4 to 6 sprigs fresh mint or lemon verbena
1. Layer the peaches or nectarines in an attractive glass serving bowl, sprinkling each strata with a tablespoon or so of sugar. (Use less sugar rather than more.) Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 to 3 hours.
2. Taste the peaches for sweetness, adding more sugar as needed. Pour in wine to barely cover, turning the fruit gently with a spatula to blend. Cover again and refrigerate 4 to 6 hours.
3. Take the fruit out of the refrigerator 30 to 45 minutes before serving. Present the peaches by spooning them and their liquid into wineglasses and finishing with sprigs of mint or lemon verbena.
Wine Suggestion: a fruity Moscato d’Asti
From The Italian Country Table, by Lynne Rossetto Kasper
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