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What is Vermouth?


Vermouth and vodka cocktail
Steve Brown Photography/Photolibrary/Getty Images

Vermouth is a fortified wine that is aromatized with a variety of herbs and spices. There are a few varieties of vermouth available, the most common are dry or white vermouth and sweet or red vermouth. The use of vermouth as a modifier has defined many of the classic cocktails, most notably, sweet vermouth in a Manhattan and dry vermouth in a Martini. Those drinks that use an equal amount of sweet and dry vermouth are referred to as perfect.

The word vermouth is derived from the German word for wormwood, wermut. Wormwood was the chief flavoring ingredient for vermouth until the herb was found to be poisonous. In 1786, Antonio Benedetto Carpano of Turin, Italy made the first sweet vermouth and dry vermouth came along in 1800, created by Joseph Noilly of France. There are many producers of vermouth, each using their own, often secret, recipe of herbs and botanicals.

All vermouths should be refrigerated after opening, Dry vermouth can be stored for up to 6 months and others for up to 1 year, though it is best to drink it soon after capping.

Also Known As:

  • Sweet Vermouth
    • Red Vermouth
    • Italian Vermouth
  • Dry Vermouth
    • White Vermouth
    • French Vermouth

Alternate Spellings:

  • wermut
  • vermut
  • wermuth

Brand Examples:

  • Cinzano
  • Dubonnet
  • Gallo
  • Martini & Rossi
  • Noilly Prat
  • Tribuno


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