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Chris Amirault

Making Homemade Vermouth

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It's the holidays, and in my world that means I'm likely to get a bottle or two of wine that I'd rather experiment with than drink. This year it was a bottle of Orleans Hill Cote Zero, and the project was sweet vermouth. I know that there are several Society members who have made their own vermouth, but there currently are no discussions or recipes for same. Time to get cracking.

I started by using the most basic recipe that I found out there, from the gang at Cocktail Virgin Slut's blog. I started by simmering, covered, 200 ml of the wine for 15 minutes with the following items:

2.5 g gentian

2.5 g cinnamon stick

2.5 fresh orange peel (no pith)

1 g lavender

1 g anise seed

1 g star anise

1 g mahlab

1 g white cardamom

0.5 g chamomile

0.5 g fennel seed

0.5 g allspice berries

0.5 g mace

0.2 g thyme

0.2 g oregano

0.2 g basil

0.2 g white pepper

0.2 g black pepper

2 whole cloves

I then made Vietnamese sugar syrup, which isn't very sweet but has a bitter caramel edge, using 60 g of turbinado sugar caramelized until it was very dark brown and then adding 60 ml water to make the syrup. I also added 60 ml demerara (2:1) syrup, 120 ml of Landy VS cognac, and the rest of the wine (about 400 ml, with 150 ml keeping the cook happy) to refill the bottle.

It's not quite there. At first, it tasted like, well, "organic red wine with stuff in it," as my wife said. This morning after a night in the fridge it's much more approachable. It doesn't have the mouthfeel of, say, the Punt e Mes sitting next to it, nor does it have an appreciable raisin-y flavor that I really want. (Add raisins to the spice mixture?) I can also tell that getting a more appropriate wine like a Trebbiano would help; the Rhone-esque edges of the Cote Zero really kill the finish.

However, it's a great new project, I think, and I'm dying to hear what other people have done or are doing.

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I believe most Italian Vermouth is made on a base of a white wine, say something like Muscat Canelli. The color comes from caramelized sugar/caramel coloring.

There are some Italian aperitivos, like Barolo Chinato, which are made on a red wine base.

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Yeah, this ended up more like Dubonnet rouge than a vermouth. I think a Muscat or Trebbiano would help with the mouthfeel and tannins, among other things.

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Yeah, this ended up more like Dubonnet rouge than a vermouth. I think a Muscat or Trebbiano would help with the mouthfeel and tannins, among other things.

i really like the styles of aromatized wines that really show the wine base... (barolo chinato is cool but its not one of them...) the top of my list would be vergano's "luli" and "americano". vergano uses really good wine which i bet is part of the reason they are so expensive. the luli uses muscato to show off all of its elderflowery-melony fruit. the wine augments the shades of orange created from further elaborating it with three different types of peels... the americano uses a weed grape called grignolino which can only make a rose. this gives incredible color and ample acidity with no tannins and probably only contributes some watery strawberry-watermelon fruit (which does get amplified when you add sugar... but i've never really figured out why that happens). maybe it still gets colored red like campari but i'm not sure. trebbiano is basically synonymous with chardonnay. drinking trebbiano and vermouth trebbiano are probably two different things. the vermouth probably gets bland high yields and near no fruit that you would want to show off. its just like a blank starter vessel with some built in acid and alcohol...

if i could use any one wine i know to make a decadent aromatized wine it would be capanna's moscadello di montalcino. intense oxidized elderflower meets orange fruit with some residual sugar, awesome acidity, very long lived in the mouth and it doesn't break the bank.

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All righty then, I'm off to find a bottle of the Capanna Moscadello di Montalcino. Any tweaks to the recipe above to suggest? How do you make yours, bostonapothecary?

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Update: completely unavailable down here, and there's nothing that I can sub in that's relatively inexpensive.

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Update: completely unavailable down here, and there's nothing that I can sub in that's relatively inexpensive.

i stopped making aromatized wines for the restaurant because demand was really low but i am serving the chamberyzette replica which is really well received. right now i'm trying to figure out the differences in the brands that are available and the rules of thumb in using a particular option because i haven't abandoned any of them.

i've had a lot of failed experiments but have learned a lot from amerine's "technology of wine making"

the first thing we need to do (because i haven't mastered it) is to figure out how to take a dry wine and "protect it"... with x starting alcohol how much of y proof spirit do we have to add to hit a selected final %alc. once we increase the volume with z grams of sugar increasing the volume in a certain way...? and so by what volume will z grams of the sugar add once dissolved?

this and one more thing has to be figured out before we get to the herbs... certain botanicals change the fruit character of the vermouth. this what is left to be desired about stock, cinzano, m&r, etc. and why people identify more with carpano antica. and why products like vergano and lillet are so much fun. (lillet brags about the "fruit liqueur" they marry their wine with. if as consumers we can't really get three types of orange peel or fresh elder flowers. we could use creole shrub, or fees orange bitters, or st. germain in our "fruit liqueur" but that might be outside our artistic constraint. we are left with eccentric wine bases like the moscadello that have wild fruit and options like dried dates and apricots, cherries, etc...

once we know how much fortifier we have to put in we can use it as our solvent for these available sources or we could even use percentages of grappa and eau de vie's as our fortifier.

now we are to selecting and macerating our botanicals... there are guidelines for how g/l or oz. per gallon are acceptable to modern tastes. .5 oz. to 1 oz. per gallons is the ball park but this does include some of the "fruit augmentors" (orange peels and maybe coriander for its orangey-ness, etc...) that i say should be split off and focused on first.

to start, i'd say you can macerate even after you sugar. this will leave no guessing as to how sugar will suppress the bitter.

amerine's book gives a perfumers table of how many grams of oil a kilogram of botanical produces for every major botanical... besides the fruit augmentors the trend is to more or less equate the weights of everything by oil (though yields vary with a million factors) to achieve the harmonious aesthetic goal of "vermouth"...

i'm still on perfecting the "protection" phase... when you get into the "fruit augmentation stage" you really see why certain products are so special and other products like amer picon can't simply be replicated by adding quinine and gentian to any random orange liqueur... it probably has a nice variety of orange peels to its blend that need to be taken into consideration...

anyhow on the origional question if you go bland on the wine (and i would to start) i'd go intense on the augmentors like the apricots... and i'd buy a simple specific gravity hydrometer so you can match the SG of any sweet vermouth you like... (1.06?)

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It's not quite there. At first, it tasted like, well, "organic red wine with stuff in it," as my wife said. This morning after a night in the fridge it's much more approachable. It doesn't have the mouthfeel of, say, the Punt e Mes sitting next to it, nor does it have an appreciable raisin-y flavor that I really want. (Add raisins to the spice mixture?) I can also tell that getting a more appropriate wine like a Trebbiano would help; the Rhone-esque edges of the Cote Zero really kill the finish.

After having taken a vermouth making course, a lot of "barmade" recipes utilize a slug of port in the mix to give the right mouthfeel and color. I need to revisit this experiment again in the future. After the class, I was just turned off by the additives (one recipe included Campari) that I put the project on hold.

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a lot of "barmade" recipes utilize a slug of port in the mix to give the right mouthfeel and color.

Huh. Of all the things in that category, I'd try Pedro Ximénez sherry. It is sometimes blended with other sherries, and it is very handy at home to tame an experimental sherry purchase that otherwise requires too much commitment. It would be in a familiar role here.

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This is the recipe for Ippocrasso, the oldest Vermouth of the world.

IPPOCRASSO (MEDIEVAL SPICY WINE)

Ingredients:

2 cinnamon sticks

1 tsp ginger powder

5 cardamom seeds

3 cloves

1 pinch of nutmeg powder

2 liter young red wine or rosè wine

7 tbsp of honey

Crush all the spices in a mortar.

Melt the honey and ½ liter of wine in bain-marie.

Let cool.

Put the spices, the melted honey and 1.5 liter of wine in a airtight jar.

Let soak for 2 weeks in a dark place, shaking every day.

Filter and bottle.

A legend tells the Greek physician Hippocrates (V century B.C.) invented the Vermouth wine.

During Middle Ages all the wines of this kind were named after him.

This is one of the most ancient Vermouth recipes arrived to our times.

Substitute the Vermouth in your cocktail with the Ippocrasso for a new taste.

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Thanks, Olemoelisa. That looks like being worth a try.

I attempted my first vermouth over the weekend, using wormwood, cloves, a bay leaf and a few other things I've forgotten (my notebook with details is at home) in a bottle of Pinot Gris I'm not terribly fond of. Not convinced by the results. I have a murky yellow liquid which tastes like an even worse version of the Pinot Gris itself, although the herbs/spices smelled delicious during the 'boil to infuse' stage. (Don't misunderstand; I like Pinot Gris generally, just not the particular one I used for this. Maybe there's a lesson there.)

It's possible things may come together over the next few days, but I'm not holding my breath. Further experimentation is called for. On the dry side I'll be very happy if I can approximate Lillet or Dolin Blanc; on the sweet side my holy grail is Punt e Mes.

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This is not the thread for a proper discussion, but I give you due warning I am now the proud owner of a still (entirely legal where I live) and will probably bombard you elsewhere with the fruits of my experiments. The star so far is an amaro with star anise, allspice, cloves, gentian, orange and lemon peel and fresh sage, rosemary and mint. It's freakin' delicious (and quite serious, at around 56% alcohol).

Back on topic: the first vermouth I reported on making in my previous post (#12) has now turned out way better than I thought. I added some caramel and vanilla paste (just a little) to the bottle and let it sit a week or two longer, and it's now more than acceptable. One of the evening's pleasures recently was a 2:1 Martini made from my own gin and my own vermouth.

And just this afternoon I've strained and bottled a couple of litres of Ippocrasso from Olemoelisa's recipe in post #11. It reminded me of mulled wine while I was making it; now it's bottled it still smells and tastes like mulled wine. Hardly surprising, given the spices and honey. I've only tasted it on its own so far, but it's going to give an amazing twist to a Negroni at some stage.

Given my absorption with making higher-powered homemade drinks at present I'm not sure how often I'll be playing with other vermouth-style things, but my interest has been piqued, for sure.

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This is not the thread for a proper discussion, but I give you due warning I am now the proud owner of a still (entirely legal where I live) and will probably bombard you elsewhere with the fruits of my experiments. The star so far is an amaro with star anise, allspice, cloves, gentian, orange and lemon peel and fresh sage, rosemary and mint. It's freakin' delicious (and quite serious, at around 56% alcohol).

Back on topic: the first vermouth I reported on making in my previous post (#12) has now turned out way better than I thought. I added some caramel and vanilla paste (just a little) to the bottle and let it sit a week or two longer, and it's now more than acceptable. One of the evening's pleasures recently was a 2:1 Martini made from my own gin and my own vermouth.

And just this afternoon I've strained and bottled a couple of litres of Ippocrasso from Olemoelisa's recipe in post #11. It reminded me of mulled wine while I was making it; now it's bottled it still smells and tastes like mulled wine. Hardly surprising, given the spices and honey. I've only tasted it on its own so far, but it's going to give an amazing twist to a Negroni at some stage.

Given my absorption with making higher-powered homemade drinks at present I'm not sure how often I'll be playing with other vermouth-style things, but my interest has been piqued, for sure.

Leslie,

Are you basing the experiments with your still on any particular book/website?

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Hi Kerry.

A mix of sources, but homedistiller.org is very useful.

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Working on my first batch of sweet vermouth - using a recipe that supposedly gives something similar to Carpano antica. Formula here - 19 herbs/spices - 17 of which I have with me right now. Don't have Blessed Thistle or quinine bark, so I upped the other bittering agents a touch.

Pictures over here on the Excellent Adventures on Manitoulin...continued thread.

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So, for all the vermouth makers, I've made 2 batches of vermouth so far and have some questions:

 

1. How is the maceration vs simmering? Simmering makes the wine INCREDIBLY murky. I feel like if I did an iSi infusion (so, a lighting fast maceration), it'd be a lot less so, but I wonder how intense the flavoring would be. 

 

2. For those that add their herbs and spices to a portion of wine then add it back to the rest, do you have to make the spicing super strong? I find that when I add it back to the untouched wine, what was a fairly concentrated spiced wine has become barely noticeable

 

3. Anyone infuse the brandy they use? I did an iSi infusion of the main spicing ingredients into a few ounces of brandy to try to bring some more flavor in, though it probably wasn't intense enough.

 

4. re: Mouthfeel. I added caramel syrup (the nearly black kind as Amirault mentioned above), and a bit of 2.5ish:1 Demerara syrup to get color and sweetness, and hopefully a little richness in the texture, but it wasn't quite there. I then added a slug of port as mentioned above, and it really just tastes like some kind of wine now. Do commercial producers add glycerine or something?

 

5. For Kerry specifically but anyone else who's tried gelatin fining: does it really need to settle for 8 days? 

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So, for all the vermouth makers, I've made 2 batches of vermouth so far and have some questions:

 

1. How is the maceration vs simmering? Simmering makes the wine INCREDIBLY murky. I feel like if I did an iSi infusion (so, a lighting fast maceration), it'd be a lot less so, but I wonder how intense the flavoring would be. 

 

2. For those that add their herbs and spices to a portion of wine then add it back to the rest, do you have to make the spicing super strong? I find that when I add it back to the untouched wine, what was a fairly concentrated spiced wine has become barely noticeable

 

3. Anyone infuse the brandy they use? I did an iSi infusion of the main spicing ingredients into a few ounces of brandy to try to bring some more flavor in, though it probably wasn't intense enough.

 

4. re: Mouthfeel. I added caramel syrup (the nearly black kind as Amirault mentioned above), and a bit of 2.5ish:1 Demerara syrup to get color and sweetness, and hopefully a little richness in the texture, but it wasn't quite there. I then added a slug of port as mentioned above, and it really just tastes like some kind of wine now. Do commercial producers add glycerine or something?

 

5. For Kerry specifically but anyone else who's tried gelatin fining: does it really need to settle for 8 days? 

5. Yeah - probably does.

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I've been looking for a Carpano Antica starting point so thanks for the info Kerry.  Aside from changing the base wine, would you do anything else differently to get close to the original?  And how closely did you follow the homedistiller recipe?  Thanks in advance for your input!

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I've been looking for a Carpano Antica starting point so thanks for the info Kerry.  Aside from changing the base wine, would you do anything else differently to get close to the original?  And how closely did you follow the homedistiller recipe?  Thanks in advance for your input!

I lacked blessed thistle and quinine - other than that I followed it - I wonder if those would have made a big difference.  

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I lacked blessed thistle and quinine - other than that I followed it - I wonder if those would have made a big difference.  

Thanks for the fast response.  I'll be getting a batch going this weekend.  I'm debating between small chunks vs powdered ingredients for the ones I have found that have both options.  Did you use any powdered ingredients?  If you think of any other input or tweaks you'd make, I'd love to hear it.  Regardless, I'm excited to get some in the works!


Edited by brandonbrews (log)

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Thanks for the fast response.  I'll be getting a batch going this weekend.  I'm debating between small chunks vs powdered ingredients for the ones I have found that have both options.  Did you use any powdered ingredients?  If you think of any other input or tweaks you'd make, I'd love to hear it.  Regardless, I'm excited to get some in the works!

Used the leaves/whole spices rather than powdered.  

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A new project is born:

 

Infusions.png.4617f9832541d98876d040becb

 

It's time to attempt some proper vermouth.

 

There are innumerable suggestions for this on the Net (and, shame on me, I haven't even dug into eG yet), with several different techniques advocated, but I'm going with those who suggest making individual infusions of the different botanicals then blend them into one's wine to taste.

 

So .. from nearest to the camera: cinnamon, nutmeg, hyssop, marshmallow, fresh sage, fresh mint, orris root, wormwood (home-grown, as mentioned in the post before this), elecampane, cardamom, gentian and cinchona.  Yes, I hadn't heard of some of them before either!  I would have done a few more - bay leaves and rosemary - but I ran out of small jars.

 

Everything is sitting in 40% vodka, where they'll stay for differing lengths of time depending on when I think they've had enough, then they'll be mixed into a base of wine sweetened with caramelised sugar (I'm going for a sweet vermouth, as that's what I seem to use most of).

 

Wish me luck!

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3 hours ago, lesliec said:

A new project is born:

 

Infusions.png.4617f9832541d98876d040becb

 

It's time to attempt some proper vermouth.

 

There are innumerable suggestions for this on the Net (and, shame on me, I haven't even dug into eG yet), with several different techniques advocated, but I'm going with those who suggest making individual infusions of the different botanicals then blend them into one's wine to taste.

 

So .. from nearest to the camera: cinnamon, nutmeg, hyssop, marshmallow, fresh sage, fresh mint, orris root, wormwood (home-grown, as mentioned in the post before this), elecampane, cardamom, gentian and cinchona.  Yes, I hadn't heard of some of them before either!  I would have done a few more - bay leaves and rosemary - but I ran out of small jars.

 

Everything is sitting in 40% vodka, where they'll stay for differing lengths of time depending on when I think they've had enough, then they'll be mixed into a base of wine sweetened with caramelised sugar (I'm going for a sweet vermouth, as that's what I seem to use most of).

 

Wish me luck!

 

I approve of this experiment--and I'm very keen to hear about the results.

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t's been far too long since I posted the above announcement that I was embarking on a new vermouth experiment, but unfortunately life got in the way - I'm sure many of you have had the same experience from time to time.

 

Anyway, the various infusions have been sitting on my kitchen bench since the middle of February (I strained the solids out after 24-48 hours, don't worry).  I was struck by the variety of shades of colour of the different infusions - the cinchona bark, for example was a a rather delightful deep red/brown.

 

Finally today I got round to putting the thing together, and I can report the result was ... bloody awful!  Highly unpleasantly bitter, even with 200g of caramel added.  I can't identify which of the 14 (eventually!) components is dominating, but it's quite nasty.  I've put it aside to see if it comes together at all over the next little while, but not holding my breath.

 

All is not entirely lost - I can put the mess through the still if it's a complete failure and at least get something useful out.  My problem was probably overenthusiasm; going with something marginally less ambitious but proven, like the recipe in the very first post in this topic, might have been a better use of time and materials.  In the meantime there's always Coccih, Punt et al.  But I take comfort in the success of the mole bitters I made recently, and my nocino is nearly to the end of its second 40-day 'rest' period before I can bottle it.  It tasted pretty good after the first 40 days, so there's hope.

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