Vermouth is back in fashion

Vermouth may be a bartender’s best friend for mixing drinks, but it’s also delicious to drink on its own with its herbal and spiced flavors. And, for once, forget the giants from Italy and try instead Dolin, a small-scale vermouth from Chambéry in the French Alps.

Vermouth is a so-called “flavoured wine”. The flavors come from herbs and spices macerated in white wine. Sugar is added and the wine is fortified with spirits to achieve an alcohol content between 15 and 22%.

The first vermouth was made in Turin in northern Italy in 1786 by Antonio Benedetto Carpano. Today, vermouth is produced in many countries, but the most famous ones come from Italy and France.

There is dry and sweet vermouth. However, no vermouth is completely dry. All have added sugar. These are the European designations for style and sugar content:

1. Extra dry (sugar content less than 30 grams per liter)

2. Dry (sugar content less than 50 g/l)

3. Blanc/Bianco/White (sweet vermouth with a sugar content of at least 130 g/l)

4. Rouge/Rosso/Red (sweet vermouth with a minimum sugar content of at least 130 g/l)

The best selling vermouths are the sweet ones. Italy, with Martini and Cinzano at the top, is best known for its sweet vermouths, while Noilly Prat, a French brand, is famous for its dry and extra dry.

In good quality vermouth, you should always be able to detect a slight bitterness from the herbs. An essential ingredient is, of course, wormwood; the name vermouth derives from the German word for wormwood, wormwood. Vermouth producers keep the exact recipe a secret. In general, 20-30 different herbs and spices macerate in the white wine to impart flavor. It can be cinnamon, cloves, orange and lemon peel, coriander, hyssop, basil, gentian, chamomile, ginger…

Getting the right aromatic character is the whole secret. You should have a blend that gives the wine a herbal taste and a bit of bitterness that balances out the sweetness. Wormwood and other herbs used are considered good for digestion and stimulate the appetite. It is no coincidence that vermouth is such a good aperitif.

Giants such as Martini & Rossi and Cinzano dominate the vermouth market. But there is room for small enterprises. Dolin is located in Chambéry in Savoie in the French Alps. The mountains are just around the corner, and here on the green slopes, many plants grow that give flavor to Dolin vermouth.

Dolin made the first vermouth in 1821. The founder’s name was Joseph Chavasse. The company was named Dolin in 1843 when Joseph’s daughter married Louis-Ferdinand Dolin. After his death in 1869, his widow Marie continued to develop the company, and then his daughter Marie-Rosalie took over, along with her brother Ferdinand. After the First World War, the Sevez family, friends of the Dolins, took over the company and it is still in their possession today.

Dolin’s vermouth was a hit in Paris cafés in the 1800s. It won prizes, even a medal at the World’s Fair in Philadelphia in 1876, thanks to Marie-Rosalie’s initiative. The United States was and remains an important exporting country. During Prohibition, Dolin even offered alcohol-free vermouth.

Tasting Dolin vermouths

Dry Vermouth comes out

The color is light, the nose measured and elegant with an unmistakable herbal character. It feels pleasantly dry on the palate with a touch of bitter citrus and menthol. Great to drink on its own, perhaps with a wedge of lemon. A very elegant vermouth. The alcohol content is 17.5%.

Out came the Blanc Vermouth

Dolin made the first white vermouth in 1881. It’s herbal on the nose with lemon and fresh almonds. On the palate, there are citrus fruits and elderberries. It has a great herbal character and a slight bitterness on the finish to balance the sweetness. The blend of herbs includes hibiscus, basil, cinnamon, wormwood, gentian and a few others. The alcohol content is 17.5%.

Out came the Rouge Vermouth

This was the first vermouth that Joseph Chavasse made. The recipe remains the same. It’s easily the best red vermouth I’ve tasted. The color is a beautiful coppery red. The fruit is ripe and slightly sweet, but combined with slightly bitter medicinal herbs, it is balanced. There is a delicious spiciness at the end. The alcohol content is 16%. Drink it cold with ice.

Cocktails with vermouth

Chambery Cassis: Dry or white vermouth is poured over a splash of cassava cream. Top with club soda.

Martin: The classic recipe is half gin and half dry vermouth (or whichever part you prefer). Decorate if you want, or not.

Negroni: One third of red vermouth, gin and Campari.

American: Mix Campari, red vermouth and lemon juice and fill with sparkling water.

BAMBOO: Equal parts dry vermouth and dry sherry and a dash of angostura bitters.

Easier: Dry vermouth with ice and a lemon wedge or as a tall drink mixed with your favorite tonic water.

– Britt Karlsson

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