If you ask Catalans about their favorite time of the week, you'll quickly notice that many mention something you may not have heard of: La hora del vermut (the hour of the vermouth).
Where do we know vermouth from? You know Martini of course, otherwise you see it on the cocktail menu and that's about it. High time to highlight this delicious snack. We do this on the basis of 4 questions.
- What is vermouth?
In wine terms, vermouth is a "fortified wine," just like Port and Sherry. On some drinks cards you sometimes come across Port, Sherry and Vermouth under the name: PSV. This means that there is wine in vermouth, but we'll get to that later. Vermouth is mainly produced and consumed in northeastern Spain (Catalonia), southern France and northwestern Italy. All on the Mediterranean Sea, where the weather is nice, where you can find good food everywhere and where we like to go on holiday. You have white and red vermouth. Both are normally made from white wine and the taste ranges from slightly sweet to sweet.
- How is vermouth made?
Let's start by saying that every bar, family or bodega has its own recipe. There is therefore no fixed recipe for this, but a line can certainly be drawn. Vermouth is always wine-based. You also need spices, sugar and extra alcohol. Common spices for white vermouth include lemon zest, ginger, anise, and basil. For red vermouth, these are orange peel, cinnamon, nutmeg, licorice and cardamom.
So how do you make vermouth? The herbs you have chosen can be infused with basic alcohol of about 50% alcohol. You can do this in all kinds of barrels, even oak barrels. You can let this soak for as long as you want. Days, weeks, even months. The longer the infusion, the more flavor. You filter out the herbs and mix the alcohol with white wine in the ratio 1:3. The alcohol percentage has now dropped to 15-23%. Finally, sugar is added and in the case of red vermouth, a kind of caramel that gives the vermouth its brown, copper color.
- How do you serve vermouth?
The Catalans often drink vermouth during the 'hora de vermut'. That's the hour before lunch on the weekend, in other words between 12 and 1. A glass of vermouth as an aperitif with some snacks to get you in. The vermouth is then served with a few cubes of ice, a slice of orange and an olive in the glass.
- What do you eat with vermouth?
Vermouth is an aperitif and is therefore not drunk during meals in Spain. Some typical snacks for the vermouth are: Olives, canned seafood and natural chips. All savory, salty snacks to satisfy the appetite. In the Netherlands, vermouth and such snacks are ideal for a drink.
A sun, glass of vermouth, bowl with olives. Life is easy.