I made my first attempt at an aperitif wine the other day, aiming for Cocchi Americano or Kina Lillet.
I bought 2 1/2 bottles of reasonably priced Muscadet-Sèvre et Maine, brought it to 140 degrees and added 1 cup of sugar. Stirred to dissolve.
Then I added the spice tinctures I’d previously made, starting with a touch, and tasting and adding.
I finally ended up with the following amounts, where I started to be able to perceive the earthy flavors of the Quinine and Gentian tinctures in the wine:
2 TBSP Seville Orange Tincture
2 TBSP Mexican Cinnamon Tincture
2 tsp. Gentian Tincture
2 tsp. Wormwood Tincture
3 tsp. Quinine Tincture
1/2 Cup Spanish Brandy
Cooled, poured it back into the bottles, rested for a day, and tried it.
My initial reaction is I got closer to Jean de Lillet than Cocchi Americano. Admittedly, it doesn’t have any Sauterne in the wine blend, so there is no botrytized character, as in the Jean de Lillet.
Challenges: It’s really hard to judge how something warm will taste chilled or in cocktails. I would have had to use much more of the spice tinctures to get close to Cocchi Americano. It’s tempting to just mull the spices in the warm wine. But that will make fining or filtering much more challenging.
The Wine was also a weird pick. Muscat Canelli or similar would be a typical choice for the wine base of a vermouth. But I was feeling completely uninspired by my choices of California Muscat. Loire whites are just some of my favorite wines.
A pretty good first try, I think. Everyone who has tried it has been quite complementary. Still, it isn’t what I was hoping for.
Bonus: At the grocery store on the way home they had Sorrento Lemons! Picked up a couple and it was just the spur I needed to start a new batch of Swedish Punsch. And yes, Rowley, this time I will make your Lemon Punsch Pie with the leftover sliced lemons.