The Art of Drinking Vermouth

Vermouth is often used in various cocktails because of its aroma and flavor. It’s also a popular fortified wine because of the roots, herbs, flowers, and bark that are added to it, but what do you really know about vermouth and what it tastes like if drank on its own?

How Vermouth is Made

Vermouth is a type of Moscato wine in Italy that is flavored with tree bark, saffron, anise, cinnamon, chamomile, and even absinthe to make it sweet or semisweet. More accurately though, vermouth is a fortified aperitif wine, which means that its base is either mistelle (white grape juice or brandy and fermented white wine) or white wine. Unlike Moscato wine, however, vermouth contains more alcohol because it’s fortified. Using the base of white wine or mistelle, distilled alcohol is added, usually using brandy, to raise the proof.

This process is what makes up the fortification of vermouth. Next, the base is aromatized using substances made from plants. This could be a mixture of spices, herbs, roots, seeds, flowers, and others. The use of botanicals give vermouth its color and flavor. Most of the vermouth today contain wormwood, from which its name is derived, while the color caramel comes from the sugar.

The Benefits of Vermouth

Whether you prefer the pale, dry and bitter vermouth or the red and sweet vermouth, when consumed in moderation, it is good for you because it promotes food digestion and improves appetite. In some cases, 50 grams of vermouth can even help someone recover from food poisoning or gastroenteritis. Besides being a good antiseptic, too, the herbs and spices it contains can help you relax after a stressful day at work. Some people use a mixture of vermouth and 2 tablespoons of honey to relive cold and sore throat. It can also be mixed with aloe juice and honey to relieve stomach ulcer.

Vermouth Food Pairings

Because of the diverse flavors of vermouth, there are a lot of options for food pairings depending on its characteristic taste. Aromatic French vermouth are best paired with cheeses because they complement the vermouth’s nutty flavors. While dry vermouth like Italian varieties are best paired with smelly cheeses. However, most vermouth will go well with chicken, scallops, shrimp, mushrooms, beef steak, mussels, salmon, and pancetta.

The Best Vermouth Cocktails

Try these vermouth cocktails with your friends:

  • Negroni: 1 ounce sweet vermouth, 1 ounce Campari, 1 ounce gin, and citrus essence
  • Black Dog: ½ ounce dry vermouth and 3 ounces rum
  • Vampire’s Kiss: ½ ounce dry vermouth, 2 ounces vodka, ½ ounce dry gin, 1 tablespoon tequila, 2 ounces tomato juice, and 1 pinch salt
  • Manhattan:1 ounce sweet vermouth, 2 ounces bourbon, 1 dash orange bitters, 2 dashes Angostura bitters, and brandied cherry for garnish
  • Rob Roy: 1 ounce sweet vermouth, 2 ounces blended scotch whiskey, 2 dashes angostura bitters, and lemon peel for garnish
  • Vermouth Cassis: 1 ½ ounce dry vermouth, ¾ ounce crème de cassis, and club soda
  • Carpano-Rita: ½ ounce sweet vermouth, 1 ½ ounces tequila, ¾ ounces lemon juice, and ¼ ounce agave syrup

The Best Wines for Your Sangria

While it’s easier to just buy ready-made sangrias, it’s more fun to make your own. Start by choosing which fruits and spices to include and the wine to use. For those who are clueless of how to make sangria, here are some tips based on the type of wine to use.

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Red Wine

Though it’s possible to make sangria out of red wine, keep in mind that not all red wines take sangria mix the same way. For a more drinkable mix, use dry red wines that offer fruity aroma and flavours. Avoid older wines as they can be too delicate for mixing, tannic reds as they can make the concoction taste too strong, and overly complex wines as they can be difficult to mix with other flavours.

White Wine

Surprisingly, it’s a bit more difficult to look for a white wine and fruit combo for good-tasting sangria. It’s because white wines display more of it fruitier side than its alcoholic taste. If you want a sharper flavour using white wine in your sangria, pay attention to the type of grapes used in the wine and the fruits you include in your sangria recipe.

For example, a citrusy flavoured Sauvignon Blanc might not go well with a sangria recipe that has a lot of lemon or lime in it. This may call for a bit of experimentation, but lighter and un-oaked Chardonnays can meld well, as well as Chenin Blanc wines.

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Rosé Wine

With so many choices of dry rosé wines, don’t hesitate to try pink wine for you concoction. A pink wine offers an additional benefit of creating beautiful colour combinations for your beverage, given that this wine can be found in almost every shade of pink—from salmon pink to blood red. Also, with these wines lighter red berry flavours, this wine type tastes good with sangria that has cranberries, raspberries, and peaches in it. However, try to avoid rosé wines that are overwhelmingly sweet as they’re difficult to pair with the rest of your sangria ingredients.

Dessert Wine

]While we’ve just mentioned to avoid overly sweet wines, dessert wines with balanced fruitiness and acidity can be a wining option. To ensure a winning sangria combo, make use of fruits with lip-smacking acidity, such as lemons, lines, pomegranates, and oranges. The extra jolt of acid will counteract the sweetness, making your sangria taste a bit drier and balancing the flavour of the ingredients.

Sparkling Wine

For a bit of kick, use sparkling wine in your sangria mix. The ones with simple and fruity flavour works excellently—think Italian Prosecco or Spanish Cava. Almost any sparkling wine works well with any sangria recipe that calls for white bubblies and rosé wines. However, keep in mind that the sparkler should only be add just before serving so the bubbles won’t dissipate.

Whether you choose red, rosé, white, dessert, or sparkling wine, serving sangria is a versatile way to celebrate in the warm weather, and a more fun take on traditional wine in summer.

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