Vermouth: Origins and Styles

In our first article on this blog: “Vermouth, 3 things you need to know about the history of your favorite drink.” we wrote about Antonio Carpano and how he crafted what will be remembered as the first modern vermouth.

We used the word “modern” because there’s track of aromatized wines already in ancient Rome; actually according to ( the first man to infuse herbs in wine was Hippocrates with his Hippocratic wine. In order to have a digestive drink, Hippocrates would infuse Greek wine with Artemisia and other herbs, as dittany. Afterwards the Romans adapted this recipe with herbs and spices more easy to find on their lands, as for example, myrtle. Discoride, a Greek doctor who lived in the times of Nero, used to suggest to have some wine with myrtle in order to “ameliorate woman’s temper”.During the Middle Ages this drink was modified and enriched with more and different spices and herbs, until it ended up as a medicinal tonic.

In modern times the vermouth loses its medicinal tonic image and becomes a classy aperitif or a perfect mixer for amazing cocktails. The vermouths are not all the same, it is in fact possible to identify 3 different categories: Sweet, White and Dry.


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All vermouths have white whine as base, then adding natural caramel we will obtain that classical dark red or amber color of the Sweet vermouth. White and Dry vermouth differs mainly in the sugar percentage, the Dry one has less sugar than the white and this gives it a dryer taste. Antonio Carpano’s vermouth is a sweet vermouth and also belongs to a subcategory, is in fact a vermouth di Torino, of those sweet vermouths produced in the Turin area.

In her artictle “Exploring the Styles of Vermouth” Madeline Puckette explains us some of the differences between those three categories and adds a suggestion of how to pair each one with other spirits.

  • Sweet vermouth’s taste is rich, spiced, herbaceous and sweet. It is excellent to pair with gin, sparkling wines, bitters and whiskey.
  • Dry vermouth is lean, tart and herbaceous. It pairs perfectly with gin, vodka, amaro, and Aperol.
  • White vermouth’s taste is rich, tart, floral citric and sweet. Gin, vodka, sparkling wines and bourbon are the best pairs for this vermouth.

Vermouth is a drink with ancient origins, during the ages has seen ingredients and usage modified: digestive, medicinal tonic and even cure for women with temper.

Even though modern vermouth is a more sophisticated version of the old one, and it’s drunk mainly for pleasure, it maintains some of its ancient characteristics: it’s an exceptional digestive and I dare you to give some to your partner during a fight, everything will end up peacefully! …according to Discoride.

ettoreblogMy name is Ettore Velluto, I’m a vermouth enthusiast, I like extraordinary cocktails and I’m definitely a foodie. I earned my MsC in Innovation and Entrepreneurship at ESADE Business School and at the moment I’m enrolled in the Coursera’s Social Media Marketing course.

I am planning to market my own vermouth, feel free to reach out or connect with me at or @e_velluto .


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