Vermouth is an alcoholic beverage produced by fortifying wine with neutral spirits and steeping the mixture in a blend of herbs, spices, flowers, roots, and barks. With hundreds of botanicals to choose from, vermouths can vary widely in flavor based on the blend of ingredients used in the steeping mixture.
Classically, there are two different types of vermouth: sweet and dry. Sweet vermouths contain 10% to 15% sugar, which is usually added after the wine has been fortified and aromatized. Dry vermouths, on the other hand, contain between 0% and 4% sugar. By volume, wine constitutes the majority of vermouth, which results in an alcohol content between 14% and 20%, making vermouth a good option when you want a low-alcohol beverage.
Because there are so many different ingredients used to make vermouth, this unique beverage can be bitter, sweet, floral, spicy, or vegetal with considerable overlap between these flavors. Vermouth derives its name from the German word for wormwood, an ingredient used in the drink since the 16th century. Today, Italy and France are the two largest producers of vermouth globally.
Throughout the world vermouth is enjoyed on the rocks as a low alcohol aperitif or in cocktails such as martinis, Manhattans, or negronis (find our recipe here) where it is prized for its complex flavor profile. Vermouth can be found in nearly any liquor store. For unique, small-batch vermouths, seek out specialty liquor stores and spirit shops. Because vermouth is a low alcohol spirit, be sure to store opened bottles in the refrigerator to extend their shelf life.