Okay, so we’ve compiled the results from our blind tasting
and all is noted below. Our criteria was
to select the best tasting vermouth without consideration of how it would taste
with different spirits or other ingredients added, simply on its own at that
moment. All wines were served slightly
chilled. After the tasting, we explored making
different cocktails and experiments with the vermouths we didn’t rate as
high. As it turns out they made
excellent mixers versus standing on their own. The drinks were remarkable and
the nuance of adding different vermouth’s makes a big difference! I’ll compile all the recipes too and send
that out in a future post. Prices listed
are suggested retail.
Extra Dry Category
Boissiere – France $8.99, voted least favorite. Overt chemical aromas and flavor profile
Montana Perucchi – Spain $18.99, voted 1st
place, pleasant oxidized characters and similar to Sherry. Worked nicely by itself and with food.
Vya – California $14.99, voted 2nd
place, it was the most unique for scent and flavor. Strong mulled spices and viscous qualities.
Dolin – France $13.99, voted least
favorite. Hot nose and finish coupled
with chemical attributes made it unpleasant
Noilly Prat – France $9.99, voted 2nd
place, strong herbaceous qualities, a bit hot on the nose and palate.
Vya – California $14.99, voted 1st
place and the clear winner in this category.
Light, crisp, balanced acidity and herbs.
Red Category – There wasn’t a clear winner in this group. The Dolin and Perucchi tied for first, the
Carpano & Cocchi tied for second place.
Carpano Antica Formula – Italy $26.99, came
across as medicinal upfront with caramel & fruit tones on the finish
Cocchi Storico di Torino – Italy $18.99 voted
last place, concentrated root beer flavors without much else
Dolin – France $13.99, voted first place. Most versatile and balance between the sarsaparilla
and botanical notes.
Montana Perucchi – Spain $18.99, great aromatics
and garnet color. Balanced flavor. A bit polarizing with perfume-like nose.
Vergano Chinato - Italy $44.99, liked not loved. Near the bottom but more “safe” than
Sweet White Category
Imbue – Oregon $24.99 voted 2nd place
and another crowd pleaser. Well balanced
with strong botanicals, acidity and sweetness coming through.
Dolin Blanc – France $13.99, 3rd
place overall and left a rather lackluster impression on us, however, as guests
arrived I poured this as an aperitif over ice with a twist and it was a huge
Montana Perucchi – Spain $18.99 voted least
favorite. Lacked balance and structure.
Vergano Chinato Luli – Italy $44.99 voted 1st
place and praise for another outstanding vermouth overall.
Sweet Red Category
Boissiere – France $8.99, well liked by the
group (tied for my personal favorite in this category), perfume-like aromas
with sweet/caramel flavors.
Carpano Punt e Mes – Italy $19.99, voted least
favorite. Too medicinal and overpowering
flavors. Seems more like a traditional
Amaro than a vermouth
Dolin – France $13.99, rated better than the
Carpano but not by a big margin. Unbalanced,
sharp flavors and didn’t invite further sips.
Vya – California $14.99, another crowd pleaser
(tied with the Boissiere for me), super aromatic and lingering finish.
Americano Category – I borrowed this description from vermouth101.com
There are a number of venerable aperitif wines that
aren’t vermouths, but have much in common with vermouth. One group of these
wines is known as “quinquina” (kenKEEnah), because historically these wines
feature (or at least include) Peruvian chinchona bark (“quina” in the native
Quechua tongue, “china” [KEE-nah] in italian, and possibly Anglicized as china
[chai-nuh]) amongst their botanicals. Chinchona bark is the primary source of
quinine (the pharmaceutical and taste component of Tonic water). Quinine became
the wonder drug of the 18th Century when colonizing Europeans realized that it
was beneficial in warding off malaria, and for a while, Europeans were adding
quinine to anything and everything. A major market for quinquina was France’s
protracted campaign in Algeria, which held large numbers of French troops and
administrators in tropical peril. Some quinquina was specifically produced with
the French foreign legion in mind.
Americano can be
looked at as either a sub-class of quinquina or its own style, entirely.
Americano refers to the wordamer—bitter—not the New World. Where quinquina’s
defining flavor is quinine, Americano’s is gentian and/or wormwood. Vermouth,
quinquina, and americano all draw from much the same pool of botanicals, and
their classification or style is a question of the intent behind the
proprietary formulation. Both Quinquina and Americano can come in various
colors, such as deep red, straw or even clear (colorless). Almost all are based
on white wine mistelle, although one notable exception is Byrrh
, which is based on a
red wine mistelle.
Quinquinas and Americano’s serve a similar function to vermouths: they are
excellent aperitifs on their own, and they make fine components of mixed
Cocchi Americano– Italy $18.99, white
Vergano Chinato Americano – Italy $39.99, red
We couldn’t justify voting on them against one
another since one was white and the other was red. They were both AMAZING. The Vergano was voted
best in show by most of the group.
Stay tuned for a list of cocktails that we are inspired by vermouth.