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Spanish vermouth is an alcoholic drink made mainly from wine and Mistela. Apart from these 2 fundamental ingredients you can add many other botanicals. This alcoholic beverage has an alcohol content of about 15% by vol. of alcohol. So it is "stronger" than a traditional wine.
What is absinthe and what does it contribute to Spanish vermouth?
Wormwood is a fundamental aromatic herb to make this liquor. It is native to Latin America although it is also cultivated in some regions of Europe. It is characterized by providing a bitter taste and has properties that facilitate digestion.
Origin of vermouth
Vermouth has its origin in Italy, it was created at the end of the 18th century and from its beginnings it had a great acceptance in society. It has been very well received in the rest of the countries of Europe and in each country the recipe has been interpreted in a different way.
The first Spanish region that began to make vermouth was Andalusia, which used to use grapes of the Palomina or Pedro Ximenez variety for this alcoholic drink. Later, this product was extended to other regions of Spain, such as Catalonia, the Basque Country and La Rioja.
What ingredients are used to make a good Spanish vermouth?
The main ingredients that we are going to use to make a vermouth are the following: wine, aromatic and botanical herbs, hydroalcoholic solution (water and alcohol) and sugar. Next we are going to detail them in more depth:
The wine that is usually used to make this drink is characterized by being a quality wine that is seasoned neutral, both in flavors and aromas, generally white in color and with an alcohol content of about 12 º Vol. According to official regulations, wine accounts for at least 75% of the total of this liquor. In Spanish vermouths, a grape from the area is usually used, such as the Viura, Macabeo or Parellada variety, when the vermouth is made in the north of Spain. If the vermouth is made in the Andalusia region, the Palomino or Pedro Ximenez grapes are usually used.
This wine will be the base of the drink to which they will add different ingredients so that it has the personal touch of the winemaker. For this reason it is essential that it be a young wine and that it is well constituted. The aging and maturity of the drink will take place when all the ingredients have been integrated, so it is not worth using an aging or reserve wine.
There is no fixed recipe for vermouth, there are wineries that even use the must from the alcoholic maturation of the wine or even some mistela. In this way they achieve that the Spanish vermouth has a greater character.
The aromatic or botanical herbs are what will give the personality and that characteristic flavor to Spanish vermut. Among all the aromatic herbs there is one that is essential in the preparation of vermouth: absinthe. Which is going to give it that characteristic bitterness.
Depending on the type of aromatic herb or botanicals that we are going to use, they can be classified by:
- Bitters, some of the most used are: cardamom, hops and cinchona.
- Flavoring: citrus fruits such as lemon, grapefruit and orange peel, anise, vanilla. Aromatic herbs such as thyme, rosemary, lavender.
One of the factors that will determine the aroma and flavor of this drink is the quality of the aromatic herbs that we are going to use, their freshness and proportion in the mixture. It must be taken into account that there are vermouths that integrate up to 100 different botanicals and aromatic herbs, the presence and proportion are essential to give the right flavor.
Hydro-Alcoholic Solution, Water and alcohol:
The hydro-alcoholic solution that we are going to use to make vermouth is made up of a 50% mixture of alcohol and water. The botanicals used will be immersed in said solution in order to obtain all their aromas and nuances.
Commonly the most consumed vermouth in Spain is red vermouth. The fact that it has that tonality does not mean that it was made with red wine, sometimes it is. But on many other occasions this color Red and even black is due to the incorporation of the caramelised sugar that was put in the recipe. You have to distinguish between syrup and caramel. many alcoholic beverages consist of syrup, which is a clear solution between water and white sugar. While caramelized sugar is the result of cooking sugar and a little water, so that it does not burn, over a heat source. The whole of the caramel will be determined by the concentration of water and the cooking time.
Depending on the amount of sugar per liter that is put into the recipe, we will differentiate between the following categories of Spanish vermouths:
- Extra-Dry: The sugar content per liter is not more than 30 gr.
- Dry: A dry vemú is considered to have a sugar concentration between 30 and 50 gr.
- Semi-dry: The semi-dry vermouth are those that have between 50 and 90 gr. per liter
- Semi-sweet: A semi-sweet vermouth is one that has between 90 and 130 gr. of sugar per liter.
- Sweet: Sweet vermouths are those that exceed 130 grams of sugar per liter.
How is Spanish vermouth made?
The process of making Spanish vermouth consists of different steps that we are going to detail below. It is important to note that a classic recipe that Spanish vermouth integrates an average of 50 botanicals, so the steps that we are going to describe below is a general line of how to make vermouth, it is not a recipe or closed chemical formula:
Choice of wine:
Depending on the wine we choose, it will take more or less prominence over the botanicals we infuse. In general, you should choose a quality young white wine, but neutral, that does not have any marked nuances.
Maceration of botanicals:
Once the wormwood and the rest of the selected botanicals have been washed, we are going to immerse them in a hydro-alcoholic solution that we have previously prepared by integrating equal parts water and alcohol into the mixture. During this process, all the aromas, flavors and nuances of the selected aromatic herbs and botanicals will be extracted. The maceration time and the botanicals chosen are those that will determine the degree of bitterness and aromatization of the future vermouth.
This process can take days, weeks, even months. Sometimes oak barrels are also used from storing wines and / or spirits so that the wood itself contributes to the liquor.
Mixing and assembling the vermouth:
Once the maceration is finished, the resulting liquid will be filtered and later it will be added to the wine that we have selected. After adding the maceration of botanicals and aromatic herbs, the sugar that has previously been caramelized will be added, which will give a dark touch to the drink. Once the drink has been assembled, let it rest so that all the ingredients settle and mix homogeneously.
The result will be a drink with an alcohol content between 15 and 25% by vol. With a 75% proportion of white wine and 25% hydroalcoholic maceration of botanicals, aromatic herbs and caramelised sugar.
Characteristics of Spanish vermouth
After knowing the ingredients that make up this drink we can indicate that some of the main characteristics are:
the contrast between sweet and sour. The sweet provided by caramelised sugar and the bitterness of aromatic and botanical herbs
It is a spicy and flavored drink, with many nuances
It is a very versatile drink, it can be taken alone, mixed with a drink or integrated into cocktails.
It is a drink that facilitates digestion
Types of Spanish vermouth that you can find in Gastronomic Spain
In Gastronomic Spain you can find all kinds of Spanish vermouth, the most popular are red or black vermouth and white vermouth. However, due to the wide range of vermus that we offer, we even have orange vermouth.
Although it is true that we have vermouth from all regions of Spain. I would like to highlight some of the most popular Spanish vermouths that you can find in our online store.
It is the vermouth of Madrid, that of a lifetime. It has a wide range of qualities and formats. On our website you can find:
Zarro Ecological vermouth
The vermouth zarro 3 liters
the vermouth Zarro Taberna.
Yzaguirre vermouth is a more commercial vermouth, it is the vermouth of Catalonia and the north of Spain. On our website you can find: