Vermouth is booming in Europe right now, so I’ve done the hard yards in order find out more about it.
Cocktails are all the rage these days, with bearded bartenders shaking their cocktail mixers all over the place, and vermouth is used in many of them. My experience of vermouth was limited to Australian tennis champ John Newcombe’s television advertisements for Cinzano in the 1970’s. However it is a quintessentially Italian drink – made from fortified wine and aromatics and first produced in Turin in the late 18th century. It was originally used for medicinal purposes, but soon found favour as an aperitif and, latterly, as a key cocktail ingredient.
Fortunately, my woeful ignorance of this delicious beverage was thoroughly addressed one day in it’s home-town when The Bloke and I attended a vermouth workshop, one of the activities on offer during the recent Slow Food Terra Madre.
The workshop was hosted by Riservo Carlo Alberto, an Italian family business who once supplied refreshments to the Savoy royal family, before Italy’s unification. The workshop began very well indeed, with each participant being presented with a perfectly constructed Americano (Campari, sweet vermouth and soda water), before we were guided through a tasting of Riserva Carlo Alberto’s vermouth range of red, white, dry and extra dry.
Their recipe dates back to 1837 and is produced using white wines from two DOCG’s ((Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita – the highest classification for Italian wines). The wine is fortified and then has various aromatics added and it is this which distinguishes each of the different brands. Riserva pride themselves on the high quality of their wine and the selection of 27 herbs they use in their range – 25 different aromatics in their white and red vermouth and 21 in their extra dry.
I’m now in a position to tell you that there are not too many happier ways to spend an afternoon – our hosts were generous and informative. Our tuition wrapped up with each of us being served that most Italian of cocktails, a divine Negroni (gin, vermouth rosso and Campari) – a lusty drink which embraces both sweet and bitter flavour profiles.
My education complete, I decided to conclude my afternoon with a nap. 😉
Liz Posmyk (Good Things)
Interesting, Amanda. Scratching my head now, wondering if I have ever had Vermouth. If not, time I tried.
Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella
Haha I like the way you concluded things. I should learn to end things that way 😀
Tania| My Kitchen Stories
fantastic way to spend a day Amanda. I must remember to ask at work tomorrow why we don’t have Vermouth because i want a Negroni- especially a lusty one
Anna @ shenANNAgans
I like that cocktails are on their way back, I’m partial to a good cocktail and have been known to laze away an hour or two gossiping with the gal pals over cocktails.
When I was a kid the folks had a well stocked bar & year in, year out the Vermouth never seemed to be used. Questioning Queen Suebar about this strange discrimination towards alcoholic goodness was simply because in her world cocktails were “so yesterday”.
I’m glad cocktails are back in vogue, classy little critters they are.