What exactly is vermouth? And why do flavors of bottles vary so greatly? Here are 5 key facts to better understand this category of wine:
1. Vermouth is a broad category, traditionally a fortified wine blended with herbs and spices in an endless combination. It’s typically made with white wine, but red is also used as a base.
2. When creating a vermouth, the end result is as much down to the style of wine used as it is the combination, proportion and process used to steep or infuse the other ingredients―roots, berries, herbs, spices, leaves and flowers, ranging from wild oregano and hyssop to juniper, coriander, rose petals and verbena.
3. The name vermouth comes from the French pronunciation of “wermut,” the German word for wormwood. That’s because wormwood was usually a part of vermouth’s ingredient mix until its ban in many countries in the early 20th century.
4. Sweet (and red) vermouth is traditionally known as Italian, while dry (and white) vermouth is considered French, based on their origins, although both have long been made from dry white wine.
5. The first commercially successful sweet vermouth was made in Turin, Italy, by Antonio Carpano in the late 18th century. Joseph Noilly of Lyons, France produced a drier version not many years later.