At each event we went back in time and covered a specific part in the history of vermouth; its origin and transformation, from medicinal wine to the beautiful aperitif we know it to be today.
The home of vermouth is a spectacular city. And it is genuinely a city that is dedicated to the tradition of aperitivo. From 4pm, bars and caffes are full of people sharing a quick drink with friends before they head home for dinner. Aperitivo snacks are also mostly free here (expect anything from olives to a full platter), which is something that has started to fade away in other places in Italy.
“The Romans also really loved their aromatised wines as it also helped make poor quality wines easier to drink, more palatable and aided digestion.”
Vermouth is an aromatised wine, which is to say that it’s a wine that has had a bunch of botanicals thrown at it to flavour it.
It can be difficult to improve upon the classics, but we like this bright and fresh Grapefruit Americano recipe from Darren Leaney at Capitano in Melbourne.
You, too, may be a part of this trend. Dry January, a challenge in which imbibers become teetotallers for a month, has gained momentum in the bartending community.
Just what is vermouth?
Vermouth is a aromatised wine, which is to say that it’s a wine that has had a bunch of botanicals thrown at it to flavour it, and a
little spirit to jack up the alcoholic strength of the wine (which helps to preserve it).
The Vermouth Carta29 rosso and bianco are both made using Vernaccia wine with a combination of local Sardinain botanicals such as elicriso (Helichrysum italicum). The rosso also contains foraged mirto (myrtle).
“I was going through a phase of trying to prepare ingredients for the bar that are better than anything available commercially. I attempted vermouth, it was ok, but not as good as commercially available products, Vernon [Chalker] suggested I should meet his French winemaker friend Gilles Lapalus, which I did.” Shaun Byrne tells of the genesis of his brand, Maidenii vermouth.
Easing the ills of mankind with booze and herbs has a long history. It goes back at least to the days of Hippocrates, the ancient Greek known as the father of western medicine, who proffered a recipe for vermouth to cure jaundice, rheumatism and menstrual pain, among other things. He died in 370 BC but the idea of a herbal potion would kick on.