Vermouth? Really?

10 12 2008
Most folks see vermouth as that dusty bottle on the back bar that bartenders pretend to add to their martini, but vermouth has been totally underestimated! Vermouth is an aromatized wine, a lightly fortified wine with added botanicals. It can be either red or white.  The recipe is closely guarded by each vermouth producer, the formula for Martini & Rossi dates back to 1863 and there are as many as forty botanicals in each of their vermouth styles.  Martini & Rossi also does not pasteurize their vermouth, but only lightly filters it.  Martini & Rossi is also well known for its Asti Spumante, a charmat method sparkling wine from the town of Asti in Piedmont.  Made from Moscato and at about 7.5% alcohol it’s a lively floral white sparkler. 

My first wine trip was in fall of 1993.  I was just out of college and was fortunate enough to be invited on a trip to Piedmont by Carlo Petrini and Slow Food.  This was before most of us even knew of the Slow Food movement.  We were extremely lucky, the ten of us, as we had the chance to visit multiple producers and basically live in Piedmont for 21 days.  It was towards the end of our trip when we were told we were going to go to Martini & Rossi, producer of Asti Spumate and Vermouth.  Now I had heard of Martini & Rossi before, seen it on bars all over the place, and I have to admit I was a bit jaded by this point in the trip.  We had tasted unbelievable Barolos and Barbarescos from Ceretto, Chiarlo, Vietti, and many many more.  We had had dinner with Angelo Gaja, who said “The women will sit next to ME!”  We had been wined and dined and had eaten more meat braised in wine than anyone could imagine.  Brats that we were, we were tired and irritated to have to drive out of our comfort zone for this visit.

We couldn’t have been more wrong, and man was I humbled.  The property was exceptional.  They had an amazing wine museum, but best of all, before we knew what was happening, we were ushered in to a wood paneled room complete with a full bar.  Before our eyes appeared aperitifs, and one of these was vermouth.  Vermouth both red and white, can be a delicious start to a meal.  The pleasant bitterness piques the palate and prepares it for food.  We were immediately put in a better mood and became much more comfortable after sipping these drinks.  Then we were escorted into a gorgeous dining room where we were served the most incredible Fontina cheese soup, called Fonduta.  It was covered in white truffles and ladled into our bowls from a large tureen.  As I gawked at the many white truffles floating in my bowl out of nowhere appeared a gentleman with white gloves and epaulettes who proceeded to shave MORE white truffle into my bowl.  I waited an embarassingly long time until I realized that he would continue shaving until I asked him to stop, so, somewhat reluctantly, I asked him to cease shaving.  After lunch and a delicious Bricco del Uccelone Barbera, they served us one of the most ethereal wines on earth, Asti Spumante.  While we had tried many Moscato d’Asti along our route, a less bubbly version, this was my first real Asti Spumante.  The effusive aromas of white grapes and flowers filled the glass and the low alcohol enabled us to drink it very easily.  The fully sparkling nature of the wine again cleansed our palates.  Just when we thought it was all over, another door opened and we were brought back to the bar/study to relax with Port and after lunch drinks.  

The lesson learned was that sometimes what may seem at first mundane can be extremely pleasurable in the proper context.  The experience taught me to be humble in everything I do and to refrain from generalizations or assumptions that are unmerited.  So I urge you to go and toast humility with a Martini & Rossi Vermouth or their Asti Spumante, and remember how wonderful they can be.

Martini & Rossi Rosso with Orange

In a rocks glass pour some Martini and Rossi Rosso and add a splash of Orange Juice.  Seems simple, and it is, but it’s extremely refreshing and gets the palate excited for food.  For the holidays try variations such as adding some nutmeg, orange peel or spices.

Martini & Rossi Celebrity Crush

I tasted this at the Martini & Rossi Andy Warhol Martini Factory Party at Tales of the Cocktail.  1 & 1/2 parts Martini & Rossi Rosso vermouth, 2 parts cranberry juice, 3/4 part simple syrup, 6 raspberries, 12 fresh rosemary needles.  Muddle raspberry, rosemary and syrup in a shaker, add ice, vermouth and cranberry juice, shake and strain into a cocktail glass, garnish with rosemary sprig skewer with raspberries.

Advertisements

Actions

Information

3 responses

11 12 2008
Paul in Boca

You should really try Quady VYA Extra Dry and Sweet Vermouths. Excellent products, it’s almost a shame to pour these 2 wines into gin or bourbom!

2 01 2009
Clifford in SF

My mom used to drink M&R Vermouth by the gallon!! Great article!

1 03 2011
Silvia Hynds

I simply want to say I am new to blogging and really liked you’re web site. Probably I’m likely to bookmark your site . You surely come with incredible well written articles. Thanks a lot for revealing your blog site.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: