Honestly? Even though I’ve studied wine and spirits, been certified by the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET 2) and made plenty of cocktails with Vermouth I had never 1. Studied Vermouth in a single spirit tasting sans cocktail or 2. Looked into what makes a Vermouth. So, considering that most of my readers are wine 101ers I will start there and then move onto a comparative tasting.
Drinking and flavor profile of Vermouth from Serious Eats, “An aperitif wine is nothing more than a wine (naturally) served before a meal as an appetite stimulant. Aperitif wines are often bittersweet and herbal. Aperitif wines are also fortified, which means they’re blended with additional alcohol, usually grape brandy. Finally, they’re aromatized, or flavored with botanicals, such as aromatic herbs, roots, and barks.”
According to Wikipedia, “Vermouth is produced by starting with a base of a neutral grape wine or unfermented wine must. Each manufacturer adds additional alcohol and a proprietary mixture of dry ingredients, consisting of aromatic herbs, roots and barks, to the base wine, base wine plus spirit or spirit only – which may be redistilled before adding to the wine or unfermented wine must. After the wine is aromatized and fortified, the vermouth is sweetened with either cane sugar or caramelized sugar, depending on the style.”
Vermouth Tasting (Aromas and flavors separated by ;. Tasted against Italy’s Martini and Rossi Vermouth – open for some time – for comparison.)
La Quintinye Vermouth Extra Dry (France)
Brown sugar, caramel candy, floral, bark, peat moss; bruised lemon, orange, ginger ale, mild acid/burn. I would see this one lending itself nicely to a martini.
(Martini and Rossi brand: Same color, not as floral, more bruised citrus fruit, whiskey, whiskey cask; more tart in the front palate, hazelnut, with long lasting fruit.)
La Quintinye Vermouth Royal Rouge (France)
More coffee-colored than the M and R. Cherry cough syrup, anise, scented soap, rose petals, milk chocolate, coffee liqueur; lovely viscosity, licorice, roses, plums, raisins, red grapes, chocolate. I could easily sip this with a slice or orange (to go with that great fruit) all by itself.
(Martini and Rossi brand: Bruised red fruit, band aids, bark; same bruised fruit and that nut quality – hazelnut and walnut this time – that I found in their dry vermouth.)
2 oz. Whisky
1 oz. La Quintinye Vermouth Royal Rouge
5 drops Angostura Bitters
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.
Spiced Gin & Tonic by Tad Carducci, Tippling Bros.
1 oz. G’Vine Nouaison Gin
1 oz. La Quintinye Vermouth Royal Rouge
3 oz. Powell & Mahoney Spiced Grapefruit Tonic*
.5 oz. Fresh lemon juice
Build in highball glass with ice. Stir and garnish with a slice of fresh grapefruit.
La Poire by Jacques Bezuidenhout, Wildhawk
2 oz. La Quintinye Vermouth Royal Extra-Dry
½ oz. Mathilde Pear liqueur
½ oz. Lemon juice
2 Dashes Orange bitters
Lemon wheel & Rosemary sprig for garnish
Build in a highball glass with ice. Stir to mix ingredients. Garnish with lemon wheel and a sprig of rosemary.
Pairing the La Quintinye Vermouth Royal Rouge
(Readers) may be surprised to learn that a well-crafted, sweet vermouth will handle the complex salty, spicy, and sweet notes found in most Asian cuisine.
France’s La Quintinye Vermouth Royal Rouge (SRP: $14.99 for 375mL) is a prime example of a vermouth that will balance out the spicy chili pepper found in Chinese dishes, particularly Schezuan-style cuisine. It will also cut some of the salty soy flavors in dishes like fried rice and Kung-Pao Chicken, while that same saltiness will cut the sweetness of the fortified wine, making it quite a perfect pairing. More about La Quintinye below:
- Crafted from 28 botanicals and a blend of white wines
- Fortified w/ Pineau des Charentes – a renowned fortified wine made by mixing fresh grape juice and Cognac from a single estate
- Deep amber red
- Nose of licorice, prune, vanilla and chocolate-toffee notes
Sweet palate – rich and intense with caramel, burnt vanilla and warm spiced notes.
Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, a “certification in first globally-recognized course” as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video, authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits. You can also seek her marketing advice via Eve@EveBushmanConsulting.com