A lot has happened in vermouth since Maynard Amerine’s great annotated Bibliography, but not much of it has a web presence or even awareness in popular culinary. Most of the great research has been done in India, believe it or not, and is associated with the brilliant Dr. VK Joshi.
The Indian work with vermouth supports my theory that vermouth flourished in the late 19th and early 20th century because people’s tastes were more sophisticated than their ability to create wines. In India, simple plebian & ordinary wines, probably at risk of oxidation, are ameliorated and preserved to become enticing, exciting, and memorable aromatized wines.
I’ll link to and summarize a few of the great works I’ve recently come across from India. I had first come across a paper from India about seven years ago but somehow I’ve lost it and it doesn’t appear in this list so I know there is much more great Indian work out there. I made my first mango vermouth many years ago, but I made the wine myself and I think it had problems I’ve since learned how to correct.
Vermouth Production Technology – An overview This is one of the great concise modern looks at vermouth making. The bibliography is wonderful and there is a great botanical formula for a mango vermouth.
Flavour profiling of apple vermouth using descriptive analysis technique Worth checking out for the spider web graphic of apple vermouth alone. This paper can teach popular culinary a lot.
Influence of ethanol concentration, addition of spices extract, and level of sweetness on physio-chemical characteristics and sensory quality of apple vermouth This is a great paper about refining and optimizing vermouth formulas. In the paper is a dynamite looking botanical formula for apple vermouth.
Panorama of research and development of wines in India Interesting with a lot of amazing ideas. There is a great entry in the bibliography from 1985 “Mango Vermouth – A new alcoholic beverage” that I would love to track down.
Effect of different sugar sources and wood chips on the Quality of peach brandy Not exactly vermouth, but interesting for the peach brandy obsessed crowd and beautiful ideas for those making mixed mash distillates.
Production technology and quality characteristics of mead and fruit-honey wines – a review Again, not vermouth but included because the ideas are brilliant. There is also a wonderful paper describing the major uni-floral honeys of India. Who would not want to try mustard honey or cardamom or tamarind flower honey?
Analysis of volatile aroma constituents of wine produced from Indian mango This paper gives some great advice about producing fruit wines. This bibliography is interesting and there is a paper from the 1980’s cited about making dessert and madeira style mango wine.
A very interesting book, Specialty Wines Volume 63, has a chapter on vermouth written by an Indian author, among some other cool topics like Vin Santo making and the Appassimento technique. Rumor has it a PDF of this book exists out there on the web.
One new idea explained in this Hungarian paper from 2004 is that vermouth has serious antioxidant capabilities. In vogue extremist adages about the need for absolute freshness of vermouth might be bogus due to vermouth’s being pumped full of antioxidants from various botanicals. I have witnessed this first hand with some of my vermouth making explorations that are now 7+ years old. My Hercules renderings, where I even made my own base wine without reductive techniques, were preserved miraculously well by yerba mate and yarrow flowers. The fruit wine base could never have been expected to live that long without developing an oxidative character but there are a few bottles left if anyone is in doubt. Other papers do exist on the antioxidant activity of wormwood. This paper covers both antioxidant and antibacterial activity.
Besides the papers from India, probably the most interesting modern paper written about vermouth comes to us from the Bacardi Group’s Ivan Tonutti also of Martini & Rossi’s Grand Lusso and Bombay Sapphire fame. Tonutti has become well known as a brand/botanical ambassador, but the paper isn’t well known because it was written for a Brazilian science journal. Wild ideas are touched upon like the vacuum microwave hydro distillation of botanicals. Tonutti has certainly seen some wild stuff and this paper is not to be missed. This article from the Wine Spectator is worth taking a look at and funny enough, Tonutti appears at the end in a field of angelica.
A near term Bostonapothecary project in the pipeline is developing a low cost method of standardizing a botanical charge as well as doing reasonable amounts of competitor analysis on a budget. I have done a lot of reading to make it happen and all that is left is to raise some funds for the glassware necessary. I’m slowly developing a consulting package for small scale distillers where we will spend an intensive weekend covering a few analysis and fabrication techniques plus learning how to use the vast collection of literature I’ve assembled.
Another project I’d like to tackle is developing beverage fabrication manuals to help new producers in the developing world capitalize on their assets in the booming craft economy. It would be nice to see areas that produce orange peels also producing orange liqueur instead of merely selling the peels for short dollars while the Cointreau’s of the world add only a little more value and reap some massive out-sized profits. Organizations like FAO with this handbook are funding such initiatives:
This handbook is part of a series of agribusiness manuals prepared by the FAO Investment Centre Division, in collaboration with FAO’s Rural Infrastructure and Agro-Industries Division. It was prepared for the EBRD Agribusiness team, under the FAO/EBRD programme of cooperation. The production of the manuals was financed by FAO and by the EBRD multidonor Early Transition Countries Fund and the Western Balkans Fund. The purpose of this handbook is to help agribusiness bankers and potential investors in the Early Transition countries (ETCs) and Western Balkan countries (WBCs) to acquire basic knowledge about the wine sector and to become acquainted with recent economic trends in the sector around the world, with a special focus on the ETCs and the WBCs. This volume was prepared by Frederic Julia, Wine Expert, and reviewed by Emmanuel Hidier, Senior Economist, FAO, as well as by members of the EBRD Agribusiness team. Electronic copies can be downloaded from www.eastagri.org, where a database of agribusiness companies, including wineries that operate in the ETCs and the WBCs, is also available. Please send comments and suggestions for a future edition of the manual to TCI-Eastagri@fao.org.