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Issue Date: Fall 2007

Vermouth: Use It or Lose It

Vermouth finallly gets a little respect
Paulius Nasvytis, photography by Barney Taxel
A martini without vermouth is just a glass of cold gin. A Manhattan without enough of it is not a Manhattan at all. But this blended and fortified wine is one of the most commonly underappreciated beverages.

Vermouth is made by flavoring wine with a proprietary mix of herbs, spices, flowers and fruit peels. A distilled spirit, usually brandy, is added to make it about 18-20 percent alcohol.

Red vermouth is bittersweet with spice and fruit flavors — think Sophia Loren, voluptuous with a sexy, smoky elegance. The dry white variety is more Lauren Bacall, feminine but tough, with a complex herbal and steely taste.

Seek out brands such as Vya, new from the Quady Vineyards in California; the Italian classic Martini & Rossi; the hard-to-find Carpano Antica Formula, an 18th century recipe; or the French versions, Dubonnet and Lillet.

But beware the dusty, half-filled bottle on the back bar. Once opened, vermouth has a relatively short shelf life before oxidation renders it into something more like vinegar. For best results, keep it in the refrigerator, and use within 10 days of opening. With so many ways to enjoy it, that shouldn’t be a problem. |!|

Paulius Nasvytis is the owner of The Velvet Tango Room.
Saturday, May 10, 2014 5:58:27 AM by Alain Harvey
Vermouth is white or red wine that has been infused with a mixture of botanicals and fortified by the addition of a neutral alcohol like un-aged brandy or grain alcohol. The fact that it is fortified leads many people to believe that it is shelf-stable, that is simply not true. For a better vermouth experience, buy a high quality product such as one of the offerings from Boissiere, Noilly Prat, or Vya, and always buy from a source with high turnover. Vermouth should be used within 6-8 months of bottling or it begins to go off. Once opened, it should be stored in the refrigerator and away from light. Even when stored properly, it oxidizes like any other wine, so it is advisable to finish the bottle within a month after opening. Unfortunately, this means you should almost never order vermouth (or a cocktail containing it) in a random bar where the bottle is just sitting out and has been open for who knows how long. Find a cocktail establishment where they care about these things, or make it yourself at home.

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