What Is Vermouth And What Does It Taste Like?

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By: Tom Valenti


Vermouth is a type of fortified wine that has been aromatized and flavored with various herbs, spices, roots, and barks. It dates back to the late 18th century when it was first invented by Antonio Benedetto Carpano in Italy.

Since then, it has become an essential ingredient for many classic cocktails, such as the Martini and Manhattan. So what is vermouth really? What does it taste like? And how can you use it to create delicious drinks? Read on to find out more.


What Is Vermouth?

What Is Vermouth

Vermouth is a seasoned wine flavored with herbs and spices, originating in Italy in the 18th century. It was initially used as a medication due to its plant content, notably wormwood which gives Vermouth its French name.

It can be enjoyed on its own as an aperitif or mixed into cocktails such as Martinis and Manhattans, for a subtle herbal flavor and fragrance. Vermouth is fortified with alcohol and various botanicals to create different types that may be chosen by professional bartenders for specific drinks. It is also used to reduce the total alcohol level of a cocktail.

Vermouth: Liquor or Wine?

Vermouth Liquor or Wine

Technically, Vermouth is known as a type of fortified wine. It is essentially a particular variety of wine that has been “fortified” by a concentrated spirit, particularly brandy, for those who are unfamiliar with the term. Therefore, alcohol is implicated in some way!

Port, sherry, as well as marsala, are a few other kinds of fortified wines that you may be familiar with. Fortified wines are frequently served as pre or post-dinner drinks. 

Vermouth does occasionally get mistaken for a liqueur, particularly given its unique ABV (typically 15–18%, according to The Spruce Eats), but the thing is there is no distillation during the making Vermouth process, Vermouth can’t be categorized as a liquor.

History of Vermouth

The “modern Vermouth” was allegedly developed around the year 1786 by Antonio along with Beneditto Carpano just as an improved version of a mixture that may have very ancient origins, as stated by Dry Martini. 

According to the source, Hippocrates is believed to have been the first to create a primitive form of spiced drink in ancient Greece. Wine, wormwood, and a few various spices were mixed by the renowned doctor to create a substance known as “Hippocratical” at the time.

Even with a firm conviction of its Greek and also Italian ancestry, Vermouth’s real geographical roots are still hotly contested. As reported by Thrillist, France adamantly claims possession of fortified wines as well, especially the dry and white types. 

The source notes that as red Vermouth output increased, the beverage entered the possession of the French that afterward started creating a separate brand of Vermouth.

What Does Vermouth Taste Like?

Vermouth is often found in cocktails due to its occasionally floral, occasionally spicy flavor character. There is a spicy taste to Vermouth. The different herbal plants and seasonings that were previously incorporated in it are what give it its flavor. 

Among the most popular spices include cardamom, coriander, and juniper. So, what exactly does Vermouth taste like? Vermouth has primarily been divided into two categories based on sweetness: dry Vermouth together with sweet one.

The taste characteristic of dry Vermouth is extremely potent. It tastes tart and peppery, as its name implies, and has no sweetness. Dry Vermouth, which is frequently employed in martinis, offers a faint flowery aroma. 

Otherwise, the flavor of sweet Vermouth is subtly sweet and slightly spicy. The flavor of vanilla and savory herbs and seasonings permeate the fragrance of dry Vermouth. It frequently goes with whisky and cognac as a starter.

How To Store Vermouth? 

Vermouth is frequently mistaken for liquor, so people keep it in the same manner. However, because Vermouth is not considered an alcoholic beverage, there are certain methods to keep it to extend its shelf life. 

After opening a container of Vermouth, don’t forget to securely seal the top to reduce the likelihood that it will evaporate. Keep a container of Vermouth that has been opened in the fridge

Otherwise, the wine inside might start to ferment too much and the Vermouth container might start to taste like vinegar. The likelihood that Vermouth will lose its flavor if kept open is significant. 

Therefore, it is important to remember to seal the cover after using Vermouth. Vermouth should be consumed within one to two years of being bought, even if you haven’t cracked open a container. Even the best Vermouths that are readily accessible to us start to lose taste after a while. 

How Should Vermouth Be Best Served?  

Unquestionably, one of the finest beverages we have at our disposal is Vermouth. It is an adventurous drink because of how adaptable its flavor is; you can add some extra Vermouth to any cocktail to give it a stronger flavor

But as a stand-alone beverage, it’s becoming more well-liked these days. It is a well-liked beverage due to its excellence and taste flexibility. There are a few factors to take into account if you choose to offer it as an independent beverage.

They may have said that a person’s first image is their finest. This also pertains to beverages; your beverage should not only be aesthetically appealing but also delectable to the palate. So let’s get started and learn some advice for providing Vermouth in this part. 

Vermouth is a tasty aperitif or beverage given before meals. A side meal like some potato chips, olives, and perhaps some sausages should be presented with Vermouth. Large ice crystals and a tiny glass are used to serve Vermouths

You may additionally offer your visitor a sealed container of cold soda as well as water. Despite the fact that the majority of people enjoy it fresh, some may need to reduce it. To decorate your Vermouth beverage, add a piece of lemon, citrus, or olive. Vermouth is the finest served over chilled grapes for the perfect taste.

What Is The Best Way To Choose A Vermouth?

After talking about Vermouth’s flavor and various drinks, you may wish to give them a try. But peruse this part first before heading to the store! Here are some tips to choose the perfect Vermouth. 

Determine A Variant: As we’ve already mentioned, there are two types of Vermouth. However, if you’re unsure which type to choose, choose the sweet Vermouth variety because it offers the taste that the majority of cocktails call for and is very attractive.

Check The Expiration Date: The following point we need to remember is its expiration date. Vermouths don’t improve with maturity as wine does. Vermouth will start to taste and smell less after a certain period of time. Therefore, it is crucial to purchase Vermouth before the expiration date.

Depend On The Climate: We should seek out refreshing red Vermouth during the summertime. However, if it is winter, you may wish to consume something to stay cozy; in this case, choose white Vermouth.

Choose Based On Base Spirit: Vermouth is a fantastic cocktail mixer, as we all know. However, we do not yet know that not all basic drinks pair nicely with Vermouth. Therefore, add blanc if your basic spirit of choice is a white intoxicant, and red Vermouth if it’s a dark spirit. Various syrups, liqueurs, and other enhancers may be combined with Vermouth as a foundation.

Try Local: The finest Vermouth is still undiscovered, just like the majority of valuable gems. Never refuse Vermouth coming from your neighborhood establishments; some local Vermouths are superior to those found elsewhere in the world.

For Cocktails: Experiments lead to an excellent drink. Therefore, using Vermouth for a cocktail’s basic liquor is an ideal method to explore. Create your own cocktail by using different modifiers than the standard basic spirit!

What are the Benefits of Drinking Vermouth?

In the past, Vermouth was employed as medication. Later, because of its flavor, people began to use it as a substitute for booze. Many diseases have been treated with it since the time it was created. Even though modern Vermouth fails to offer as many health advantages as the traditional variety, there remain plenty of reasons to consume it in restraint.

Support Heart: Moderate wine consumption is beneficial for cardiac health. Therefore, it is reasonable to infer that Vermouth may be beneficial for cardiac health. 

Immunity Booster: Vermouth includes numerous antioxidant qualities as a result of the blend of numerous plants and seasonings. Thus, it strengthens the defense system.

Improves Digestion: Vermouth, which was commonly consumed as an aperitif for a very long time, also helps with accurate digestion. Improved digestion and meal assimilation are both facilitated by Vermouth.

Vermouth has both good and bad aspects, despite its many advantages. Vermouth is highly potent and contains high-quality beverages. Therefore, it should only be consumed occasionally.


Can Vermouth Get You Drunk?

Vermouth is not potent enough to make you inebriated. If you don’t consume it often, it might make you inebriated.

Can I Drink Vermouth Directly?

Vermouth is very tasty and contains only a tiny quantity of alcohol. So, Vermouth can be consumed straight up.

How Long After Opening does Vermouth Remain Usable?

Opened Vermouth can be kept open much longer than normal wine thanks to fortification, which is useful if you’re adding tiny quantities of it to cocktails. But you should aim to consume it within a period of three-month after opening the container.

Does Vermouth Taste Like Licorice?

Vermouth, while it has a variety of flavors and aromas, does not always taste like licorice. It may have some aniseed or fennel notes, all depending on the type of Vermouth. The flavor profile varies significantly between each brand. 

What is The Closest Thing to Vermouth?

Vermouth is a fortified and aromatized white or red wine. Therefore, the closest thing to Vermouth would be any fortified and flavored wines like port, madeira, and marsala. These three drinks are just as enjoyable as Vermouth, but they have different characteristics.

Does Vermouth Go Bad?

Yes, it does. Unopened Vermouth has a shelf life of about two years, regardless of color. After you open the container though, its lifespan will decrease significantly; opened Vermouth can last for up to six months if stored correctly in a cool place away from light.


As you can tell, Vermouth is a complex and unique beverage that brings together many flavors. Whether it’s enjoyed as an aperitif or used in cocktails, vermouth provides a flavorful and aromatic accompaniment to any occasion.

Depending on your personal taste palate when it comes to sweet, dry, or herbal aspects; there is a type of vermouth out there for everyone. With its wide array of flavors, aromas and applications, vermouth is sure to provide people of all preferences with something new to try and explore. Whether it’s enjoying a martini or making some creative concoctions of your own; the possibilities are endless with vermouth.

So the next time you’re entertaining guests or trying something new in the kitchen, grab yourself a bottle of vermouth – you won’t be disappointed.

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Tom Valenti

Chef/Owner of both Ouest and ‘Cesca, and the Executive Chef of Le Cirque, Alison on Dominick, and Butterfield 81.

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