Vermouth has been in and out of fashion for hundreds of years, but is currently enjoying something of a renaissance – and it’s easy to see why. A fortified wine flavoured with wormwood – a silver-grey herb with a sage-like flavour – today Vermouth comes in a wide range of styles: dry or sweet; red, white, rosé, gold or amber; and increasingly flavoured with any number of different botanicals. It makes a great addition to a host of different cocktails – Manhattan or Negroni, anyone? – or can be served simply over ice with a dash of tonic.
Where once it was a bartender’s best friend, today it’s a go-to for amateur mixologists at home. As Club Oenologique columnist Alice Lascelles wrote in a previous issue of the magazine: ‘Bittersweet, aromatic, complex, esoteric, it’s a drink which makes the mind and mouth water. You can drink it a hundred ways, and it comes in a kaleidoscope of styles.’
Almost all vermouths are based on white wine (most red vermouths get their colour from the botanicals or a touch of caramel) and traditionally that wine was something quite fresh and neutral like Trebbiano or Picpoul, but more adventurous producers are now using local wines and botanicals to give their vermouths a more distinct character.
Below you’ll find six top-rated vermouths from the 2020 IWSC, from a range of countries and styles, spanning a Sherry producer in Spain to a rendering based on a French Sauvignon Blanc – and that’s before we’ve even got to Vermouth’s heartland of Italy…
Vermut Rosé Vermouth
Baldoria Dry Vermouth
Dibaldo 721 Rosso Essenziale Vermouth
Leonce Sauvignon Blanc Extra Dry Vermouth
La Quintinye Vermouth Royal Blanc
Servito Vermouth Bianco