Vermouth is an aromatized wine, a type of fortified wine flavored with various botanicals (roots, barks, flowers, seeds, herbs, spices). The modern versions of the beverage were first produced in the mid to late 18th century in Turin, Italy.
The name “vermouth” is the French pronunciation of the German word Wermut for wormwood that has been used as an ingredient in the drink over its history. There has been much debate about whether aromatized wines without wormwood could be called vermouth.
Vermouth was traditionally used for medicinal purposes, but its true claim to fame is as an aperitif, with fashionable cafes in Turin serving it to guests around the clock. In the late 19th century it became popular with bartenders as a key ingredient in many classic cocktails that have survived to date such as the Martini, the Manhattan and the Negroni.
Historically, there have been two main types of vermouth, sweet and dry. Recently many more varietals have been bought to market.
Vermouth is produced by starting with a base of a neutral grapewine or unfermented wine must. Each manufacturer adds additional alcohol and a proprietary mixture of dry ingredients, consisting of aromatic herbs, roots, and barks, to the base wine, base wine plus spirit or spirit only – which may be redistilled before adding to the wine or unfermented wine must. After the wine is aromatized and fortified, the vermouth is sweetened with either cane sugar or caramelized sugar, depending on the style.
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