If you ever snuck a swig from that dusty bottle of vermouth in your grandfather’s liquor cabinet, you may have decided vermouth is not for you. But it’s time to give vermouth another taste. Not only is the herbaceous cocktail ingredient totally on-trend, but the low alcohol-by-volume (ABV) of vermouth makes it a low-calorie sipper to help keep your healthy new resolutions.
A fortified wine (yes, it’s a wine,) vermouth begins as red or white wine, that is then fortified with brandy. Up to 40 botanicals are also added to make each brand a unique cocktail-in-a-bottle. Botanical aromatics range from cinnamon, cardamom and anise to grapefruit floral and rhubarb.
‘Vermouth’ comes from the German word Wermut, meaning wormwood, and was originally created for its medicinal properties. Bitter, aromatic wormwood remains a signature ingredient in most vermouths, however subtle. Sipping a vermouth aperitif or digestive is popular way to enjoy it. Of course, it’s also essential in the Negroni and the gin martini – shaken, not stirred!
There are three basic categories of vermouth:
Along with the sub-category of extra-dry, dry vermouths begin as white wine and are not sweet. They often contain flavors of fresh green herbs, fennel, nutmeg, bitter orange, lemon, grapefruit and light floral. A popular brand is Noilly Prat Original Dry.
These vermouths also originate as white wines and have a touch more sweetness than dry, however, they are not sweet sippers. Blancs are aromatized with tart apple, citrus, stone fruit blossom, elderflower, thyme and toasted butter. Look for Dolin Blanc.
With beginnings as red wine, these sweeter bottles contain rich aromas of cola, cinnamon, prune, spice, licorice and vanilla toffee. Martini & Rossi’s Rosso is popular.