A Vermouth Tour
Free tasting | Friday, September 14, 2018 | 5-7PM
After a wonderful Spanish dinner at Taberna del Haro in Brookline, MA, I was inspired by to lead a vermouth tasting this Friday at the shop. Prior to dinner, over a bowl full of Spanish olives, I had split a flight of sherry with a friend, ranging from Manzanilla to Palo Cortado, but it was the vermut bianco cocktail that really caught my attention. The vermut (Spanish word for vermouth) was served on the rocks, with two Manzanilla olives, a splash of soda, and a lemon twist. It was accompanied by a complimentary deep fried croquette and it was an absolutely delightful way to start a large meal!
Vermouth is an aromatized and fortified wine quite alike to sherry or port. It is typically herb-infused, but you can add anything with flavor to vermouth, like butternut squash (ala Uncouth Vermouth from Brooklyn-based Vermouth maker Bianca) or jalapeño (ala Channing Daughters in Long Island). The fortified wine was first created and sold commercially in Piedmont in the 1700s when martinis were all the rage. The name vermouth originates from the German wermut, or wormwood. Herbslike wormwood gives some vermouth its signature bitter flavor.Depending on where in the world vermouth is made depends on what grape is used as the base wine before the fortifying process. Usually a neutral grape spirit is added to begin the fortifying process, but a spirit may also come from vegetable sources like sugar beets.
Vermouth ranges in its sugar content and can be enjoyed bone-dry to very sweet. It is red or white (depending on the base wine) and “has been infused with a blend of [sometimes] hundreds of spices, barks, bitter herbs, flavorings like angelica, anise, bitter almond, chamomile, cinnamon, coriander, ginger, nutmeg, peach, quinine, rhubarb, and saffron.” It is made everywhere in the world, and with patience and a base wine of fortified wine, you could make it right in your own kitchen! When vermouth is opened it can be stored in the fridge to keep it fresh, and, due to its higher alcohol content, it should last for a few months.
So join us as we take a world tour of vermouth – tomorrow 5-7PM! There’s a lot of junk vermouth in the market full of gross preservatives and chemicals, but the vermouths in our line-up is only the good stuff. We’re also opening some cocktail bitters so there will be some fun mixing and experimenting with vermouth cocktails, just in time to get your weekend started right. See you there!
Contratto Rosso (Piedmont, Italy)| From the base wine of Cortese, this famous vermouth pours a copper color and has a bitter, woodsy note to it. It’s a must in a Manhattan or simply sip on its own. Try it neat with your dessert in the place of port.
PrioratNatur Vermut (Catalonia, Spain) | A traditional vermut from the artisans at Buil and Gine in Spain's historic Priorat region. It is aged for two years in 30,000-liter barrels that still hold some of their first vermouth, made over a century ago. A modified two-barrel solera system, called sistema de madre, is used to age the wine. The result is of this Macabeo herb infused delight is textured, bitter, sweet, fruity and nutty. It’s a must with a cheese plate and a bowl of olives. This is on my favorites list for life.
Dolin, Vermouth de Chambéry Dry (Savoy, France)| Made with the same set of recipes since 1821, Dolin Vermouth is a staple in bars throughout the world, and even though its widely distributed it is quality driven and delightful. This is a dry blanc style and is ideal as an aperitif. Delightful on the rocks too, with a twist of citrus.
NV Channing Daughters, VerVino Variation 2 (Long Island, New York) | Ummm…two words: Jalapeño. Vermouth. Right?! VerVino Variation 2 is a fortified and aromatized wine, which has a base wine of Sauvignon Blanc plus the addition of 30 botanicals including lantern jalapeño, thai green chili peppers, borage, tarragon, cucumbers, angelica, mint, and zucchini blossoms. You can serve and enjoy VerVino on its own or added to an Aperol spritz for a kick. Go wild and make a dirty martini or even a gin and tonic! Or pour over ice and top with a bit of lemonade, garnish with some mint! As one fan wrote on the Channing Daughters website: “We finished nearly half the bottle. First straight up, then on the rocks, then with soda and gin. (Seriously.) I kept having images of fairies and other woodland creatures drinking this ambrosia." It’s magic fairy juice!!!! (We showed this for our Island Wine tasting a few weeks ago and it was a huge hit, so we just have to open it up again!)
The Wine Bible, MacNeil, K. (2001). New York, NY: Workman Publishing