Time can certainly do wonders to some wines but for others there really is no hope. Well, that’s what I thought until I started messing around making Vermouth. As long as bottle of wine isn’t too technically imperfect then it can be used to make vermouth. I used a bottle of courgette and sultana wine that tasted a bit like grappa/sherry. It had an alcohol burn and was a little oxidised. Two faults that turned this wine into something that was very hard to drink.
It’s also that time of year when Schools/churches/Women’s institutes/clubs/societies are having their annual Tombola’s when bottles of nasty cheap wine destined to either be opened at the point of the night when your tastebuds have died or to be left languishing on a wine rack until next year when you donate it back to the same Tombola.
So, if you do have some suspect wine hanging around then have a go at the below. Actually, its quite a lot of fun and the results are pretty darn tasty too, so you could even go out and buy wine especially.
1 bottle of dry white wine
Zest of ¼ orange
Zest of ½ a lime
1 cinnamon Stick
10 juniper berries
2 teaspoons of Camomile flowers or 1 camomile tea bag
1 leaf of fresh or 1 teaspoons dried wormwood*
10 Cardamom pods
1 Star anise
1 Vanilla pod
125 ml/half cup Brandy or some Grappa
* Ask your herbalist or my mate Max the herbalist
Put 250ml/half a cup of the wine into a saucepan and stir in all of the herbs, zest and spices. Gently heat until boiling and boil for around 5 minutes. Allow to cool so that the flavours will infuse into the wine. Pour into a big jar then add the rest of the wine and the brandy. Chill for a bit in the fridge and then strain through muslin cloth/cheesecloth into a re-sealable/flip top bottle.
There are plenty of other exellent homemade vermouth recipes just a search engine away and the general gist of making homemade vermouth is to use something bitter and a combination of other mulling spices with some citrus zest so really you can experiment. You might even want to use a half decent bottle of wine. Some recipes also call for sherry, as the wine I used was slightly oxidized I omitited this.
To make sweet vermouth use sweet sherry and sweet wine and if it still isn’t sweet enough for your tastes add a couple of teapsoons of sugar syrup.
As the wine is fortified by the brandy it should keep for quite sometime.