Vermouth is actually an ancient drink using wine as a base and a variety of roots, herbs and spices, wormwood in particular. Wormwood was believed to treat stomach issues and intestinal parasites. The name Vermouth derives from the German Wermut (wormwood). Modern Vermouth, a fortified wine, is traditionally from the Turin area of Italy (think Cinzano), but France(Noilly Pratt) and other countries also have their own versions. Wormwood has been banned as a drink ingredient in many countries. In general Italian vermouth tends to be the sweeter red version and French vermouth the drier white version.
Vermouth has evolved however to include other types, albeit lesser known varieties such as Rose and Golden.
- Extra dry – less than 30 grams of sugar per litre
- Dry – less than 50 grams of sugar per litre
- Semi-dry – 50-89 grams of sugar per litre
- Semi-sweet – 90- 129 grams of sugar per litre
- Sweet – 130 + grams of sugar per litre
Aromatics added to dry vermouth may be cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, quinine, citrus, juniper among others. Red vermouth will have beet or cane sugar added to sweeten it as well as caramel for coloring. Vermouths from producer to producer can be distinctly different as each producer’s recipe is their own closely guarded secret.