Vermouth 101

Blog, Wine, Wine Shop / Friday, January 22nd, 2016


Vermouth is a fortified wine flavored with various botanicals (roots, bark, flowers, seeds, herbs, and spices). “Vermouth” comes from the German word Wermut for wormwood, which has traditionally been the main ingredient in the liquor.

vermouth makingsVermouth is produced by starting with a base of a neutral grape wine or unfermented wine must. Each manufacturer adds a proprietary mixture of botanicals and another spirit (brandy is a popular choice). After the wine is aromatized and fortified , the vermouth is sweetened with either cane sugar or caramelized sugar, depending on the style.

It was originally used for medicinal purposes, but its true claim to fame is as an aperitif or a drink before dinner in order to stimulate the appetite. In the late 19th century, it became popular with bartenders as it was used in many classic cocktails such as the Martini, Negroni, and the Manhattan. It’s ideal for lowering the alcohol content of cocktails with a strong spirit as its base, provides a pleasant herbal flavor and aroma, and accentuates the flavors in the base liquor.

Vermouth has undergone a renaissance – Italian and French companies produce
most of the vermouth consumed in the world, but the United States and the United Kingdom have also started production. Classic brands have been revitalized and new, experimental vermouths are emerging. In the past, you only had two choices – sweet and dry. However, now there is extra-dry white, sweet white (bianco), red, amber (ambre or rosso), and rosé. 

Because the vermouth is fortified with additional spirits, an opened bottle will not sour as quickly as regular wine. Open vermouth should be refrigerated and consumed within 1 to 3 months of opening. That means you have up to 90 days to enjoy it neat, as an aperitif, in a cocktail, or even used as a substitute for cooking wine.

We have a great selection of vermouth in the store. Order online or stop by.

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