Vermouth starts with wine. All traditional Vermouths use white wines such as Trebbiano as their base. For our Vermouths we use several varietals sourced from Texas - including rose wines in some of our Sweet Vermouth formulations. We look for a good quality base wine that will add structure, light acidity and floral notes to the Vermouth. Since the majority of every bottle of Vermouth is wine we take the time to work with the best winemakers in Texas to produce a quality wine perfectly suited to our demanding standards.
Steeping herbs in alcohol (especially wine) is an ancient tradition going back over 5000 years. While the earliest herbal wines may have been created to mask the less than divine tastes of the wine - by the time of the Greeks herbal tinctures (herbs extracted with alcohol) were the primary form of medicine. This tradition grew through the middle ages and enlightenment in Europe - eventually bringing certain herbs to the forefront. One of these herbs, Wormwood (or Vermut in German), became particularly popular - and Wormwood wine (or Vermut wine) was proscribed for dozens of different ailments. In the 1760's in Italy this Vermut wine was commercialized, marketed and available to the masses as Vermouth. Due to many factors - including the decreasing cost of spices at the time, these Vermouths were produced with 10, 20 even 40 different exotic spices. Chaparral uses many of the same spices as its Italian forbearers - without the Wormwood - but we also emphasize new herbs and flavors distinctly Texas.
In addition to herbs and wine, Vermouths contain two other key ingredients: Brandy and Sweetener. Because many of the herbs used in Vermouth tend to be bitter early Vermouth makers added various types of sweeteners. The best Vermouths use honey - and Chaparral is no exception. We source Texas Wildflower Honey as the primary sweetener in all out Vermouths (some also use burnt sugar for added flavor).
The brandy is used to fortify the Vermouth - bringing its alcohol content up to 16-18%. We use top quality grape brandy in our Vermouth - this adds both a silky mouth feel and a rich grape distillate flavor. We target all our Vermouths to be 17.5% alcohol - as our experience behind the bar tells us that is the right amount to match up well with strong spirits in your favorite cocktail - as well as making for a great drinking experience on its own.