Thursday February 17, 2022
30+ selections of "not-your-grandmother's Vermouth"
This Week: We explore the world of Vermouth : what it's all about and fun ways to enjoy it!

With a history that stretches back through the ages, vermouth can trace its modern roots to the Italian country side. Traditionally vermouth was drunk as an aperitif or digestif, but the rise of cocktails and American drinking culture has changed how vermouth is used and viewed throughout the world. Made from aromatized fortified wine, each vermouth has a unique blend of herbs, roots, barks, spices, and peels. A required ingredient in vermouth is wormwood; it has been lauded for medicinal properties. The bitterness from wormwood is what makes this family of aromatized fortified wines different from styles like sherry or port. Each type of vermouth offers different levels of sweetness and different flavor profiles, the most common being Sweet, Dry, and Blanco/Bianco. Experience the world of vermouth, and explore vermouth as aperetifs and cocktails beyond Martinis or Manhattans.

Often the sweetest style of vermouth, it is balanced by a drying bitterness, similar to the effect of tannins - and spices, barks, and herbs. It is usually a rich tawny or amber color, very few are truly red in color, and there is usually some natural caramel coloring to deepen the richness of dark golden hues. This is one of the more common vermouths used as an aperitif, but it's best known for Manhattans and Negronis.

Dry vermouth came about in the early 19th century, much later than the original styles of vermouth in France. With less sweetness and residual sugar than it's rogue colored counterpart, dry vermouth is much more herbaceous and tends to have a lighter body. While it still has some light bitterness, there is almost a cooling quality which makes it a perfect companion for a refreshing Martini (stirred not shaken, Bond had it backwards).

Our third style is lesser known and not used quite as often but serves as a bridge between the dry and sweet styles. Sweeter than a dry vermouth, with more body, it is balanced by acidity and falls short of the bitterness and sweetness of rosso vermouths. You can use this style to sweeten a Martini or create a lighter style of Manhattan. Bianco and Blanco vermouths are also wonderful to sip with a couple ice cubes on a warm day while enjoying a sunset.

There are so many styles, flavors and ways to enjoy vermouth - maybe it's time you explore and fall in love with a new vermouth cocktail or aperitif!

The Team at NL Wine & Spirits
Vermouth Cocktails: Beyond the Martini
Vermouths are a great mixer. They can also be sipped on their own or over ice. Vermouth is an aromatized fortified wine that uses herbs and botanicals to add a unique flavor.  When thinking of vermouth most people think of sweet and dry; then Manhattans and Martinis. There are a lot of great vermouths out there and a lot of great vermouth cocktails that run the spectrum.  Here are a couple to get you started.
On the lighter side...

(Precursor to the Negroni)

1.5 oz Sweet Vermouth
1 oz Campari
Club Soda

Pour Sweet Vermouth and Campari into a glass over ice and top with soda. Give it a quick stir and garnish with an orange peel.
For the Aperol spritzs lover...
 a Vermouth spritz makes a great option!
 It uses a blanc vermouth - which is on the sweet side with a nice floral nose.

Vermouth Spritz

1 .5 oz Blanc Vermouth
3 oz Prosecco
1 oz soda water (optional)
1 dash of Orange bitters

Fill a wine glass with ice, add vermouth and bitters, top with prosecco and soda. Garnish with orange wheel.
Moving into bigger drinks...

(A whiskey negroni)

1 oz rye whiskey
1 oz Campari
1 oz Sweet vermouth
1 dash of Angostura bitters

Add all ingredients to a mixing glass, add ice, stir and strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice. Garnish with a lemon peel.
A classic that goes back to 1906 at New York's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel

Bronx Cocktail

2 oz gin
.5 oz Sweet Vermouth
.5 oz Dry Vermouth
1 oz fresh orange juice

Add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker, add ice, shake vigorously and strain into cocktail glass. garnish with a dash of Peychaud's bitters.
Staff Picks: What to Drink This Week
Things our staff thinks you should drink.

2020 Lena Filliatreau Saumur Blanc *Organic - $24.99
Chenin Blanc is my very favorite grape, especially when it comes from it's ancestral home, the Loire Valley in France. I can wax poetic about Vouvray and Savennieres, but Saumur is where the real value is. Fredrik Filliatreau is a fourth generation winemaker who's Chenin Blanc is named after his Swedish mother, Lena. Perfectly balanced for this time of the year, when we can't really decide what wine goes with the impending Spring that we are longing for. Rich and also bright, with precision and focus for the price. The quintessential bistro wine for your table!

2018 Damien Laureau 'Les Genets' Savennieres - $56.99
From one of the young stars of Savennieres, Domaine Lareau, comes this beautifully refined Chenin Blanc that has the weight and structure to revival villages-level White Burgundy at half the price. The nose shows notes of honeysuckle and apple and as it gains some air, candied pineapple. The medium plus palate offers mineral, hazelnut, quince, and melon. Everything is in harmony. Enjoy this great Loire wine with halibut with a lemon caper sauce or a pork tenderloin. 

2020 Three Brooms Sauvignon Blanc - $21.99
We are DEEP into winter, to the point where escapism is a means of mental survival. Three Brooms will take your taste buds on a 'summer vacation'. This New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc has pyrazines (trademark green characteristics) that present more as jalapeno than typical grass & green bell pepper. The fruit notes are bright - grapefruit and lime, and there is a surprising backbone of minerality here (watch out France, you're not the only one). If it sounds like I'm describing a margarita, I practically am! Pair this wine with fish tacos or shrimp ceviche, and enjoy beside your largest house plant. 

2020 Alfredo Maestro, Vina Almate, Tinto, Ribera del Duero, Spain - $21.99
From Spanish natural wine making rockstar, Alfredo Maestro, comes this 100% Tinto Fino (also known as Tempranillo in Spain's famous Rioja region) from his very first vineyards.
Mostly sourced from the 80 year old vines of his vineyard in the Valtiendas area, Maestro blends in some younger Tinto Fino from another of his vineyards to make his Vina Almate. He employs full organic viniculture, ferments with wild yeasts and doesn't filter or add any extra sulfites.This is a great entry level "natty" expression of Tinto Fino from Ribera del Duero.
After aromas of blueberry, plum, and cherry greet your senses, the palate is initially grippy and dry with flavors of tart red currants. With a little time in the glass, however, the fruit blossoms into juicier and smoother textures lifted by bright acidity. 
Enjoy this wine with Spanish Jamon, Marcona almonds, and aged Manchego cheese!

2019 Gulfi Valcanzjria IGT Terre Siciliane - $21.99
The true quality of Gulfi wine starts with a philosophy. They take the best from Sicilian and Roman wine history meld it with modern technology and aim for the best expression of the lands that the Catania family has been farming for over 100 years. The bulk of the work is done in the field by densely planting mostly native varietals, bush training them and allowing them to grow unirrigated. The result is pristine, concentrated fruit that only needs to be gently guided to it's finished product rather then heavily manipulated in the cellar. The winemaking principle at Gulfi has always been minimal intervention and Mateo Catania did not miss a beat when he took over winemaking after the passing of his father in 2017. He remains committed to the honest expression of the Sicillian grape but none of this can or should over shadow the results in the glass. All of Mateo's wines have extremely high impact flavors yet seem nearly weightless on the palate. The Valcanzjria is the only wine in the lineup to feature an international varietal (60% Chardonnay) but is nevertheless a graceful and seamless expression of both Chardonnay and the native Carricante. This wine combines honeysuckle, lemon, and yellow apple in a lush wine that floats gracefully off the palate. Drink all of the Gulfi wines you can get your hands on. Apparently these wines will age well but I'm not sure why anyone would wait to find out.
VERY IMPORTANT: Furry Friends That Visited This Week
Cheers everyone!
-The Team at North Loop Wine & Spirits