In Part 1 of our series “What is Vermouth?”, published earlier this week, we defined vermouth as a fortified, aromitized wine. Today, we’ll give you some information about the different types of vermouth that are available.
As I said previously, there is a big taste difference between cheap and quality vermouth – it’s a good idea to spend as much as you can afford. That being said, though, I regularly buy Noilly Prat or Martini & Rossi vermouth, both tried-and-true and just under $10 a bottle.
More important than the brand, though, is the type of vermouth you buy: sweet or dry. Usually, sweet vermouth is red and dry is white, but occasionally you’ll get a curveball, like Vya Whisper Dry, a slightly sweet (but still dry) white vermouth, or Dolin Blanc, a sweet white vermouth (used in the White Martinez recipe, shown below).
Unfortunately, the color of the vermouth is not necessarily going to make it easy to differentiate which style you’re buying. As I’ve noted, a white vermouth can be sweet or dry, a red can be syrupy sweet or quite bitter. Often, the type of vermouth may be printed in Italian or French.
So here is a brief guide to vermouth names, though a better option would be to ask a helpful local liquor store employee for help (which is what I do). Other than the typical dry-white and sweet-red, you might also see: rosso (Italian for red), vermouth amaro (a bitter vermouth, like Punt e Mes), bianco (sweet white), blanc (sweet white), extra dry, rouge (a paler red), rosé (a pink vermouth, think White Zinfandel), or ambre (a copper/orange colored vermouth).
Now that we’ve (hopefully) got the proper vermouth for our home bar, the final step is using it and taking care of it…