If I were to say “red vermouth” you’d probably conjure up images of your frugal Aunt Carmela sipping on lukewarm Martini and Rossi sweet vermouth. While the imagery was common decades ago, vermouth has fallen out of fashion and doesn’t get the respect it deserves; moreover, it’s probably one of the most misunderstood bar beverages in the United States. Carpano Antica Formula Sweet Vermouth
Red (sweet) and white (dry) vermouth are both made of wine (from the white grape Trebbiano) and it has a definitive shelf life, so don’t expect it to sit in your liquor cabinet for months at a time. Vermouth production requires a neutral type of wine (hence the Trebbiano grape) because it’s mixed with distinct herbs such as wormwood, quinine, clove, cinnamon, ginger, star anise, citrus peel, coriander, sage, basil, thyme, chamomile, gentian, juniper berry, etc. and a bit of sugar. I enjoy white vermouth in a classic gin martini and red vermouth on ice with a slice of orange. Vermouths are classified as aperitifs and a great selection can be found at WineChateau.com.
If you’re going to drink red vermouth straight up as an aperitif then one of the finest and most refined brands on the market today is Carpano Antica Formula from the distiller Branca – available from WineChateau.com for a great price. Carpano Antica is an Italian red vermouth whose founder, Antonio Benedetto Carpano, is credited for creating vermouth in 1786; in turn, Carpano Antica isn’t your standard Martini and Rossi vermouth, rather it’s elegant and intense with wonderful vanilla, cherry, and orange flavors. You can use Carpano Antica to make the perfect Negroni or, as I like to consume it, in a beautiful tumbler with a few pieces of ice and a large slice of orange. I think a high quality red vermouth is the perfect way to start an evening and get your taste buds going for an excellent meal. I promise that after you finish your glass of Caprano Antica you’ll be much happier than when you started because you’ll realize it’s the perfect, pre-dinner, cocktail.
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