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What is vermouth and how to make it easily at home?

vermouth recipePhoto: Wine Dharma

Surely you have tried it at some point and you see it frequently in the bars and on the tables of many bars. But have you ever stopped to think about what vermouth is? The simplest answer and the one we all know is that it is an alcoholic drink that is usually drunk as an aperitif, especially at lunchtime. But we want to go a little bit deeper and explain to you what vermouth really is and, in case you get a bit of a craving, we are also going to tell you about how you can make homemade vermouth in a quick and easy way.

What is vermouth?

Essentially, vermouth is a wine macerated with herbs and spices. The tradition of vermouths is mainly European, the most famous being red or Italian vermouths, and white or French vermouths. But its history goes further back in time and, depending on the different theories and legends, we can even go as far back as ancient Greece. There, it is said, the famous physician Hippocratescreated the first vermouth in history by macerating wormwood flowers in wine.

It was something like that already in the Middle Ages, began to be known as herbal wine or Hippocratic wine.. It was consumed and popularised in a fairly sustained way for a few centuries until, in the 19th century, it was produced in a more industrial way.

Among the ingredients with which wine is usually macerated to make vermouth, we can mainly find wormwood. In fact, the name vermouth comes from the German word wermutwhich means wormwood in the Teutonic language.. But, in addition to this, there are many botanicals and other spices that can form part of this tasty liqueur, with some recipes including dozens of ingredients.

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How to make homemade vermouth?

What makes the difference in a homemade vermouth recipe are the spices and herbs used to prepare it. Even more so, the proportions of these spices, as overdoing it with any of them can ruin the preparation and can result in the resulting liqueur looking nothing like the vermouth we all have in our heads. To begin with, it is necessary to have a good white wine. It doesn't have to be the most expensive wine in the world, far from it, but it is advisable to have a wine of a minimum quality, as it will be the one we are going to prepare. the basis of homemade vermouth that we are going to prepare. In addition to the wine, it is necessary to take into account the spices, herbs and fruits that you want to add. As we have said, absinthe is the most famous and important ingredient traditionally added to vermouth, but there are also others that are practically essential, such as sage, gentian root, orange peel, vanilla, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and star anise. There are also others, such as thyme, coriander, juniper and camomile, which are usually present and which you can include in your homemade vermouth. In order to make your own homemade vermouth, we are going to suggest the following ingredients:

  • 1 litre of white, red or rosé wine, according to your preference.
  • ½ tablespoon of wormwood (if you want the vermouth to be less bitter, you can reduce this quantity)
  • ½ cinnamon stick
  • The peel of a lemon
  • The peel of an orange
  • ½ tablespoon each of the following herbs: chamomile, cardamom, gentian, elderflower, coriander, juniper berries. These can be modified, removed or added according to personal taste.


The herbs and spices should be placed in a gauze bag and then placed in the wine and left to rest for a month in a dark, dry place. When the wine is sufficiently macerated, remove the bag with the herbs and add three spoonfuls of sugar previously caramelised in a frying pan. If this is the first time you make homemade vermouth, it is advisable to be careful with the quantities of herbs and spices.If it is the first time you make homemade vermouth, you should add the herb absinthe, which is the main one and which can make the vermouth excessively bitter. 




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How can you drink your homemade vermouth?

Now that you have prepared your own vermouth, the only thing left to do is to enjoy it in the best way. There are many ways in which you can drink it, although we are going to recommend you to drink it in a very traditional way, which is very fresh, served in a glass with an ice cube and a slice of orange.

If you add some tasty olives or preserves and, above all, a pleasant conversation with good friends, the vermouth is sure to taste even better. Seriously, don't you feel like making your own homemade vermouth?

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