I have a bottle of peach Nalewka Babuni, a fortified Polish fruit wine (18% ABV), which I found sitting—very dusty—on the “meads and other unpopular wines” shelf at one of my favorite local grocers. For some reason it beckoned to me. Probably because it was $8.50 and has a name that might be fun to pronounce.
Nalewka Babuni is pretty awful taken neat at room temperature, which is apparently the traditional way of consuming it. Traditional practices are important to keep in mind, here, because the label describes it as a:
Refined, old Polish liquor, present in all the 19th century houses of noblemen. The recipe handed down by noble grandmas has remained unchanged to the present day, lending a glamour to family meetings.
I’d venture that the unchanged recipe of those noble Polish grandmas must’ve been pretty forward-thinking in its day, because the label goes on to note that Peach Nalewka Babuni Wine Specialty is made of grape white wine, molasses neutral spirits, artificial peach type flavor and caramel coloring. I had naïvely thought that 19th century noble grandmas would have produced their peach wines from actual peaches, but that just goes to show how little I know of Eastern European oenological traditions.
Nalewka Babuni is a product of Vinpol, whose product page translates it as “Grandma’s Liquor” for the English-speaking audience. For the record, my grandma’s liquor was Old Crow, but she wasn’t Polish.
Artificially flavored and colored though it may be, this stuff’s not a complete write-off. I’m actually half-enjoying a 3:1 martini made with Nalewka Babuni in lieu of vermouth (and a generous helping of orange bitters). I wouldn’t recommend that anyone run out and buy a case, but it may prove to have its uses. Ah, novelty.