Vermouth: A Brief History
Vermouth has a long and surreal history, on the fringes of apothecary, art and medicine.
The consumption of fortified wines infused with herbs and roots is believed to have begun in China, dating as far back as 1250–1000 BC. It became a commercial product in Italy in the 18th century and gained popularity for its proposed medicinal benefits. Lighter, drier styles started to appear across Europe, especially in France and Europe.
Nowadays, vermouth is a distinct fortified, aromatised wine, meaning that a base wine has been combined with a spirit that has been infused with an array of botanicals which add flavour and colour. While the styles of vermouth can vary from bone dry to unctuously sweet, the one common factor is the inclusion of wormwood as a botanical, which gives it a characteristically bitter note (’vermouth’ is derived from the German word for ‘wormwood’).
While it has remained an important part of many cocktails, such as the Martini, its popularity has been waning since the 1970s. But its complex palate and ease to serve makes it an interesting, sophisticated aperitif as well as a perfect partner when mixed with other spirits. All of this is why vermouth’s current resurgence in popular culture is now undeniable as it rides the wave of the artisanal spirits and beer movement.
Liberty Wines’ Top Vermouth Picks:
At Liberty Wines, we recommend that you serve our premium vermouths by themselves, in a highball-sized glass with a large cube of ice and a garnish, such as twist of lemon peel (for light vermouth) or orange peel (for the dark styles). As vermouth is fortified, they are typically 15-17% ABV and thus a 50 ml measure is usually poured if serving it by itself.
Our complex vermouths are also fantastic in cocktails, where the flavours amplify the other mixed spirits. The clear Blackdown vermouth has a hint of sweetness and is perfect for Dry Martinis. The vermouth from Causes & Cures is sweeter and more intensely herbal, and suits cocktails that have citrus or spice notes.
This is England's first Bianco Vermouth produced by hand in small batches using only carefully selected ingredients sourced from local and English producers. Production methods combine age old traditions with a unique, modern taste of the English countryside. Silver birch wine from the sap of the trees surrounding Lurgashall Winery is fortified and infused with a secret blend of herbs and spices including wormwood creating a Vermouth full of flavour, smooth and refined.
- Add 50ml of Blackdown Silver Birch Vermouth into a tumbler
- Top up with ice and a twist of lemon peel
Made in the Yarra Valley by winemakers with a curious sense of spirits, this craft, small batch vermouth has exacting measures of local and imported botanicals, the most influential on the style being wormwood, juniper, gentian, bay leaf, cinchona and seville orange.
The ‘mother wine’ is made from hand-picked, biodynamic Viognier grapes, whole bunched pressed and wild fermented in French puncheons and barriques.
Cocktail – The French Kiss
- Mix equal measures of Causes & Cures Dry White and a sweet red vermouth
- Served in a tumbler over ice
- Lemon twist