Z Line Vermouth: The Recipe

Ingredients

  • 100 pounds chardonnay grapes, harvested on a cool night
  • 5 grams of Pinot Grigio yeast
  • 1 gram SO2
  • 4 bottles applejack or grape brandy
  • 1 jar dichondra seeds[1]
  • 1 jar safflower
  • 1 jar mandarin peels
  • 1 jar wild anise flowers
  • 2 cups dried alfalfa
  • 5 teaspoons wormwood
  • 4 cups safflower and wild blackberry honey

 

Instructions

  1. Harvest your grapes at night so they stay cool, and in good company for the stimulating conversation. Drive back home and sleep in.
  2. When you wake up, run the grapes through a borrowed de-stemmer/crusher to separate grapes from their stems and burst the grapes open.
  3. Crush the grapes with your hands and press out the juice through a nylon mesh bag into a plastic bucket. You should have 5 gallons of juice.
  4. Add 1 gram of SO2 after much fretting and research. Take a deep breath, and stir it in.
  5. Hydrate your yeast, and stir into the wine. Affix the air-tight top onto the bucket with an airlock.
  6. Wish your little yeasties well as they each the sugar in the juice and turn it into alcohol and carbon dioxide.
  7. Stir the juice every other day to release any sulfuric compounds and suspend the yeast throughout the liquid. Smell the wine to be sure it still smells like juice or wine and not rotten eggs.
  8. After 2-3 weeks (or a breezy 10 days if you have left your wine to ferment at an unusually high 72ish degrees), you will notice the yeast has stopped producing carbon dioxide (the airlock is perfectly still). This means the yeast have either eaten all the sugar or died (or both).
  9. Taste your wine. Rejoice at tanginess, fruitiness, acidity. If you taste any sweetness, it means the yeasts died before they ate all of the sugar. If it tastes dry, the yeasts ate all the food that was available to them. If it tastes rotten or sulfuric, something has gone tragically wrong and you should consult a professional.
  10. You can age your wine in an airtight glass container for 6-12 months as the molecules bind into ever-more-complex arrangements, tasting every once in a while until you decide it is done. If you are impatient and not interested in adding all of the SO2 that would be advisable for keeping the wine stable enough to last those months without spoiling, you can decide you like the taste of the wine as it is now and proceed!
  11. Gather your botanicals (dichondra seeds, safflower, mandarin peels, wild anise flowers, dried alfalfa, and wormwood) and place them in mason jars. Cover with applejack or grape brandy and set to infuse into tinctures for at least 3 days.
  12. When you are ready to mix your vermouth, filter your tinctures through coffee filters into fresh mason jars.
  13. Siphon the wine into a separate bucket or carboy with a spout, being careful not to transfer the bottom inch or so of yeast. Thank your little yeasties for their work and dispose of them.
  14. Heat 4 cups of wine on the stove and stir in your honey until dissolved.
  15. Going slowly and tasting as you go, add your tinctures and honey-wine to the bucket or carboy of wine. Stir vigorously to incorporate.
  16. When you like the balance of sweetness, acidity, bitterness, booziness, and aromas, fill two cases of wine bottles with the vermouth through the bucket’s spout.
  17. Using a corker, cork the bottles, and add labels of your own design.
  18. Celebrate by sharing your vermouth with friends and family!

[1] Note: The US Poison Control does not have data on the toxicity of dichondra seed. Consume at your own risk!

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