Betty's Wine Musings

Getting to Know and Love Vermouth

I have a lot to learn about Vermouth. So, I thought I’d do some research and share what I learned here. I hope you enjoy it.

The Best Vermouths
The Best Vermouth according to The Spruce Eats


Thank you to The Spruce Eats, Food&Wine and Tales of the Cocktail for their wonderful help on this article.

What Is Vermouth

This fortified wine is flavored with a variety of herbs and spices. It is traditionally made in two major styles: dry (white) and sweet (red). Dry vermouth, originating in France, is famously used to make martinis and is dry and floral. Sweet vermouth usually comes from Italy, is sweet, spiced, and herbal, and is used in cocktails like Manhattans and negronis. Dry and sweet vermouths are also enjoyed as an aperitif. Since vermouth is a fortified wine, it is slightly high in alcohol when compared to non-fortified wine.”

Taste and Flavor Profile in Australia says that “dry vermouth is generally light in colour, crisp, saline, citrusy and floral, while sweet vermouths are usually dark (red or ‘rosso’), rich and unctuous, offering a more herbaceous, spice-driven flavour profile.”


Dry vermouths are low in tannins and light-bodied, with a floral, herbal, fruity nose and a very dry finish. Sweet vermouths are medium-bodied with some tannins. You can expect dark fruits, spice, vanilla, caramel, cocoa, and herbs.


Depending on the maker, this wine can taste quite different. So, it’s recommended that you try several, both on the sweet side and the dry side, to decide which are your favorites.

Grapes and Wine Regions

Italy made the first sweet vermouth in 1786. However, Atlanta’s The Porchetta Group, notes that you can trace this drink’s beginnings back to the 16th century with the Romans, who were making wormwood-infused wines. The name comes from the French pronunciation for the German word for wormwood, wermwut.


Dry vermouth came along in 1813 in France.


According to WineSearcher, In France, Clairette and Piquepoul are the two grape varieties generally used, while in Italy, Catarratto (grown mainly in Sicily) and Trebbiano are the favorites. But many other grapes are used as well.


To complicate the matter further, many different herbs and botanicals are used, including chamomile, coriander, gentian, juniper, saffron, sage, and wormwood.

Food Pairings

This wine, both dry and sweet, makes an excellent aperitif. Try the dry version with “funky” cheeses and the sweet version with dry, salty cheeses. Think Parmesan! These wines also go well with tapas dishes.


Serve the drink in three-ounce glasses chilled over a cube of ice. A twist of lemon or orange helps bring out the flavors.

Vermouth Cocktails

Looking for a good cocktail?


  • Martini: All you need is dry vermouth and gin or vodka.
  • Manhattan: Sweet vermouth gives this whiskey cocktail its signature blend of flavors.
  • Negroni: A bitter and lightly sweet cocktail that is equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth.
  • Vieux Carre: A New Orleans version of a Manhattan. The whiskey is supplemented with cognac and a little benedictine.

As an independent wine consultant with WineShop At Home, I absolutely enjoy bringing a taste of the Napa wine country home to you one sip at a time. Whether you simply love to drink wine, seek a special personalized wine gift, or are in search of a new wine jobs opportunity as a wine consultant, feel free to contact me for a truly unique wine tasting experience!

Cheers, Betty Kaufman
WineShop At Home

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Recent Posts