Lillet Blanc is a French aromatized wine made from Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon grapes. This flavored wine has seventeen percent alcohol.
The Lillet Blanc wine base is enriched with fruit, aromatic herbs, roots, and spices.
The list of ingredients is not available to the public and is kept as a strict trade secret. However, it is known that bitter, green, and sweet oranges are among the dominant ingredients.
This aromatic aperitif, whose base is wine, belongs to a very specific group of drinks.
Lillet Blanc’s alcohol percentage is much lower than most spirits but higher than most wines.
Aromatized wine is often used in cocktails but can also be drunk neat or diluted with a little soda or tonic.
Lillet Blanc is drunk chilled to a temperature of 6°C to 8°C or simply poured over ice and garnished with a slice of orange or lemon.
In France, this white aromatized wine is so popular that there are special glasses for Lillet Blanc.
Besides Lillet Blanc aromatized wine Lillet is produced in two more variations: Rose and Rouge.
Lillet Rose has a wine base of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Semillon. This Rose variant of Lillet aromatized wine is slightly sweeter and has melon, grapefruit, and strawberry aromas, but citrus aromas are also present.
Lillet Rouge has a base wine of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Rouge variant of Lillet is more robust and has more pronounced aromas of orange, vanilla, and ripe berries.
Lillet aromatized wine ages for one year in oak barrels before bottling.
The history of flavored wine Lillet began in 1872 when brothers Paul and Raymond Lillet made China Lillet in the village of Podesac near Bordeaux.
This drink was flavored with quinine and was extremely bitter.
Since 1986, Lillet has been produced with much less quinine.
As a result, instead of China Lillet, Lillet Blanc appeared on the market, which offered a delicately sweet taste with floral and citrus aromas instead of strong bitterness.
What are Aromatized wines?
Aromatized wines are wines to which an alcoholic base is added, and various aromatic ingredients are macerated.
The alcoholic base for maceration is usually brandy, and the aromatic ingredients can be fruits, herbs, roots, and spices.
There is a difference between aromatized wine and wines with a subsequent increase in alcohol content, such as fortified dessert wines.
Wines with a subsequent increase in the percentage of alcohol only acquire the taste of a sweeter variant of the base wine, and their aromas do not change.
The brandy that is added to them is completely neutral without additional aromas.
Such fortified wines are, for example, dessert wines Madeira, Port, and Marsala.
Aromatized wine should not be equated with wines that, without any subsequent additions, have fragrance as a dominant characteristic.
Such fragrant wines are, for example, Gewurztraminer or Muscadine.
Aromatized wines as a substitute for Lillet Blanc
Among the most famous aromatized wines besides Lillet are: Cocchi Americano, Quinquina, Barolo Chinato, Byrrh, and Vermouth.
We do not expect that the unique taste and aroma of Lillet Blanc will be repeated in these offered alternatives, but our intention is different.
Instead, if you like drinking Lillet Blanc as an aromatized wine, it’s time to discover the other jewels of that specific realm of aromas and flavors.
Lillet Blanc brings the aromas and taste of honey, passion fruit, flowers, and orange peel into the glass and the freshness and sharpness of pine.
Enjoy these suggested substitutes for Lillet Blanc.
Vermouth is an aromatized wine first made in Italy in the 18th century.
The main difference between Lillet Blanc and this aromatized wine is that wormwood is added to the mixture of aromatic ingredients macerated for vermouth.
There are three types of vermouth: white, pink, and red.
White vermouth is also known as French Vermouth. This is a dry vermouth that usually contains only five percent sugar. Its color is pale gold.
Dry vermouths, in terms of aromas and tastes, can vary significantly depending on the manufacturer.
These vermouths are light drinks with low tannin content and usually have a floral, herbal or fruity flavor and aroma profile.
Rosé Vermouth is a transition between white and red vermouth in terms of color and sweetness.
Red vermouth is mostly produced in Italy. This sweet aromatized wine can contain up to fifteen percent sugar.
Red vermouth often has a dominant vanilla, caramel, or cocoa aroma. Those dominant aromas are mixed with spices and herbs.
There are also sweet types of vermouth on the market that are light or white.
The first sweet vermouth was made in Italy by Antonio Benedetto Carpano from Turin in 1786.
The first dry vermouth was made in France by Joseph Noilli in 1813.
There are many producers of vermouth, so a wide range of grape varieties are used in its production.
In addition, each producer has their secret recipe for maceration, but it is not a secret that in vermouth, the base wine usually makes up seventy-five percent of the mixture.
Both sweet and dry vermouth are aperitifs, but they are also almost irreplaceable ingredients of many legendary cocktails.
They can be drunk with salted ham, shrimp, or anchovies as an aperitif.
Sweet vermouth goes well with salty cheeses, and dry vermouth goes well with funky cheeses.
Not all flavored wines are made from quality grape varieties. This is especially true with vermouths, usually made from cheaper wine.
But this is different with Barolo Chinato because it is made from top-quality grapes of the Nebbiolo variety from the Italian region of Piedmont.
Using this high-quality Barolo Chinato wine, even before adding the macerated blend, already gives a rich and complex bouquet.
Nebbiolo wine is called “the king of Piedmont.” The bouquet of this exceptional wine consists of recognizable aromas of rose, licorice, and truffle.
The older the Nebbiolo, the more it takes on wild cherry tones.
Depending on the vineyard’s location, there are wide varieties, so Nebbiolo is often said to be a very timid and capricious wine.
The most famous Nebbiolo is from the Barolo and Barbaresco regions.
For Barolo Chinato, producers macerate a mixture of spices, roots, and herbs in grappa or grain alcohol.
The mixture is a secret, but so far, it is known that it includes juniper, citrus peel, cloves, coriander, vanilla, cardamom, ginger, bay leaf, wormwood, gentian, and Peruvian cinchona bark, which produces quinine.
This mixture is added to the wine until the alcohol percentage reaches a maximum of eighteen percent.
Then, due to the extraordinary bitterness of the mixture, sugar is added to Barolo Chinato.
Barolo Chinato is a rounded, spicy, and barely bitter aromatized wine that pleases with simple vanilla ice cream after dinner.
Bonal Gentiana Quina
Bonal Gentiane Quina is an aromatized wine made in 1865 by Hyppolite Bonal, physician of the Grande Chartreuse Monastery.
After studying medicine and pharmacology in Paris and Lyon, Bonnal decided to use his knowledge of the healing properties of local herbs and incorporate them into a wine that would have medicinal purposes.
Soon this aperitif became very popular as an excellent appetite stimulant.
Bonal Gentiane Quina is a moderately sweet aromatized wine with a reddish brown color.
This aperitif has aromas of herbs, licorice, and red fruits such as plums and cherries and has the herbal bitterness of cinchona and gentian that is tempered by the taste and sweetness of honey.
Bonal Gentiane Quina goes well with hard and salty cheeses and heavy, spicy food.
Cocchi Americano is a sweet aromatized wine with honey, quinine, and citrus aromas.
This aperitif is made with Moscato d’Asti wine and is sweeter than Lillet Blanc.
Cocchi Americano was produced in 1891 by Giulio Cocchi Spumanti in the Italian province of Asti.
Cocchi Americano is a modern drink closest to the original China Lillet in terms of taste and aroma, from which Lillet Blanc was later created.
Reserve Jean De Lillet
Reserve Jean De Lillet is a special aromatized wine from Lillet, aged in French oak barrels for twelve months.
The wine base for Reserve Jean De Lillet is the wines from 2009, which is remembered as a particularly good year for white Bordeaux wines.
Reserve Jean De Lillet 2009 is a blend of eighty percent Semyon, fifteen percent Sauvignon Blanc and five percent Muscadella.
In addition to the secret ingredients, there are peels of sweet Spanish oranges and bitter oranges from Haiti in the macerated mixture.
Reserve Jean De Lillet has seventeen percent alcohol, and the color is orange-gold.
China L’Avion d’Or
China L’Avion d’Or is a French aromatized wine whose wine base is the white wine Cortese originating from Piedmont.
This wine has aromas of apples, citrus, and tropical fruits.
The main ingredients of the macerated mixture are cinchona bark, wormwood, orange peel, and other aromatic spices.
China L’Avion d’Or is a slightly bitter aperitif with a quince aroma.
Byrrh is an aromatized wine made from a mixture of fine Roussillon wines and mistelle enriched with herbal extracts and cinchona.
This French aperitif was created in 1866 in Thuir, a town in the French part of Catalonia, right on the border with Spain.
Brothers Simon and Pallade Violet had a small shop in Thuir.
Simon created a recipe for an aromatized wine that they initially called “Hygienic Tonic Wine with Cinchona.” However, it wasn’t until 1876 that this wine got the name by which it became known: Byrrh.
This strange name came about by accident because that was how the letters were attached to the rolls of cloth in the shop of the Violet brothers.
The Violet brothers had a lot of business success, so they soon built spacious cellars.
In those cellars, there is still today the largest oak barrel in the world that they had built. That barrel can hold over a million liters.
Dubonnet was created in 1846 out of a need to provide the French army in North Africa with a way to drink the quinine they needed for medicinal purposes.
Joseph Dubonnet made it. This wine became popular very quickly.
The production of Dubonnet was taken over by Pernod Ricard in 1976.
Modern Dubonnet is produced in France and the United States of America in Kentucky at Heaven Hill Distilleries of Bardstown.
French-made Dubonnet contains just under fifteen percent alcohol, while American-made Dubonnet contains nineteen percent.
A wine base obtained from a mixture of Ruby Cabernet, Muscat of Alexandria, and Ruby Red grapes are used to obtain this aromatized wine.
The main ingredient in the macerated mixture is blackcurrant, along with many other herbs, spices, and cinchona bark. Dubonnet is sweetened with 100% cane sugar.
Contratto Americano Rosso
Contratto Americano Rosso is an Italian aromatized wine whose wine base is Cortese white wine.
Cortese comes from Piedmont. This wine has citrus, apple, and tropical fruit aromas.
Twenty-five extracts of plants, roots, seeds, and spices are macerated. Of those twenty-five ingredients, fourteen are secret.
It is known that licorice, mint, cloves, angelica, bitter orange, sage, juniper, ginger, aloe, rhubarb, and hibiscus are used for Contratto Americano Rosso.
Mattei Cap Corse Quinquina Blanc
Mattei Cap Corse Quinquina Blanc is the oldest and most famous Corsican aperitif.
For this aromatized wine, the base is used exclusively from a mixture of mistelle of two varieties: Vermentino and Muscat Petit Grains.
The local citrus Cedrat plays a dominant role in the macerated mixture of spices, herbs, and roots.
Louis-Napoleon Mattei created this Corsican aperitif in 1872 in Cap Corse, his birthplace.
The foundation of St. Raphael aromatized wine is a mistelle obtained by enhancing grape juice with alcohol.
In this way, the natural sugar found in the grapes is retained by interrupting the fermentation.
Cinchona peel, vanilla, cocoa, bitter orange peel, and other secret aromatic ingredients are used for the macerated mixture.
Aperitif St. Raphael was created in 1830 by the doctor Ademar Juppet.
According to legend, his eyesight suddenly deteriorated while he was working on this recipe.
Remembering the biblical story in which the Archangel Raphael healed the blind Tobit, Juppet began to pray that his sight would last until he finished the recipe for flavored wine.
When he completed the job, he called his aperitif St. Raphael as a sign of gratitude.
Aperitif St. Raphael is produced in two variants: St. Raphael Red and St. Raphael Amber.
The legendary label for St. Raphael from 1932 shows two silhouettes, later known as the “Twins.” The red figure on the label symbolizes St. Raphael Red and white St. Raphael Amber.
The best substitutes for Lillet Blanc in cocktails
Angostura Orange Bitters
Angostura Orange Bitters offers the aromas of a complex blend of secret ingredients and tropical oranges.
Woodford Reserve Orange Bitters
Woodford Reserve Orange Bitters is a very strong bitter aged in bourbon barrels for some time.
As a result, Woodford Reserve Orange Bitters is saturated with the full flavor of orange but not too spicy and loaded with many ingredients.
The magic of Woodford Reserve Orange Bitters comes from the time it spends in bourbon barrels.
Regan’s Orange Bitters No. 6
Regan’s Orange Bitters, No. 6, is bitter by Gary Regan. The Sazerac Company produces this Regan’s, Orange Bitters.
St Germain is a liqueur from extracted elderflowers harvested in the French Alps.
The flowers are collected over three to four weeks and are carefully transported to the collection centers so they are not damaged, which could later affect the taste.
The flowers are macerated, sweetened with sugar, and then distilled.
Each bottle of St Germain is marked with the year the petals were collected.
St Germain is much sweeter than Lillet Blanc, but because of its floral aromas, it is very similar. <
What this aperitif needs to improve in aroma compared to Lillet Blanc is the absence of fruit and citrus aromas.
Alma de Trabanco – Quinquina en Rama
Alma de Trabanco – Quinquina en Rama is an interesting combination of aromatized wine and cider.
The percentage of alcohol in this specific aperitif from Spain is fifteen percent.
The main ingredients of the macerated mixture are cinchona bark, artemisia, cinnamon, star anise, wormwood, gentian, vanilla, thyme, cherry, lemon, orange peel, and savory.
Trabanco has been producing cider since 1925. The traditional production method includes using large wooden barrels for fermentation and storage.
In these massive barrels, after being used for decades, a unique microclimate was created by yeast fermentation.
Cider en rama means that unfiltered cider is used to preserve the quality and character of natural cider.
Averna Amaro is an Italian bitter herbal digestif. Averna Amaro contains twenty-nine percent alcohol and is moderately sweetened.
The macerated mixture is dominated by the aromas of anise, berries, and citrus, and it also contains many other aromatic plants, flower roots, and neutral wines. After filtering, it is mixed with sweet syrup.
The choice of natural ingredients has remained the same since the original recipe in 1868.
According to legend, the recipe was composed by Benedictine monks in northern Italy.
Amaro Angeleno is a California digestif whose wine base is pinot, to which a macerated blend is added.
The citrus note given by the Valencia orange peel is dominant.
Campari is an Italian aperitif with a distinctive ruby-red color. The aromas of forest fruits, bitter oranges, and herbs are mixed in Campari.
Bartender Gasparo made various bitter aperitifs for years before he succeeded in creating the legendary Campari in 1860.
The aromas and flavors of Campari make the warmth spread to all the senses.
Sellers Aperitif is a French aperitif made from gentian roots, the recipe for which was created in 1885.
Sellers Aperitif is obtained by distilling gentian roots that were extracted from the slopes of the extinct Puy Mary volcano.
Sellers Aperitif matures in oak barrels. This aperitif has sixteen percent alcohol.
The taste of Sellers Aperitif is filled with lemon and citrus aromas.
The tradition of producing gentian aperitifs in the French Alps dates back to the late 18th century.
Besides Sellers Aperitif, among the most famous gentian aperitifs that have remained on the market until modern times are Aveze and Suze.
Of these three aperitifs, only Sellers aperitif does not use artificial colors, so its color is a pale shade of straw. Gentian aperitifs were initially sold as medicinal tonics.
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