Vermouth is an aromatized wine made from a neutral dry white basic wine which is then blended with an infusion. The infusion~ which gives each vermouth its unique and distinctive character is created by flavoring the basic wine with a special selection of herbs, flowers, fruit peels, seeds, plants, and other botanicals. The addition of brandy fortifies the vermouth to 18% alcohol by volume. The prized and closely guarded recipe is used to make Boissiere has not changed since 1854.
Dry vermouth is still prized as an aperitif in Europe, the modern American is generally uninformed about this classic aromatized wine. This is largely due to bartenders that allow opened bottles to languish on a warm shelf and quickly oxidize. Many a drinker’s first and only experience with dry vermouth comes in the form of a classic martini that tastes like an alpine bunny took a dump in it. The truth is, when stored in a refrigerator after opening and consumed with purpose, vermouth can be both a quality aperitif and cocktail mixer.
Native to northwest Italy and southern France, vermouth is produced using herbs and other botanicals and then lightly fortified with unaged brandy. Though Antonio Benedetto Carpano was the first to market the aromatized wine he produced in Turin back in 1786, vermouth and its predecessors had been consumed for centuries before that.Typical flavorings include cardamom, cinnamon, marjoram and chamomile along with myriad other herbs, roots and barks. The botanical most associated with vermouth is its namesake, wormwood, otherwise known in Old High German as Wermud.
Served neat over ice, each makes an excellent apertif.