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Wine

Best Vermouth

Back when it was first invented, Vermouth was used as patent medicine, a harmless cure-all with a medicinal flavor that made many people believe it had the power to heal anything from frazzled nerves to bouts of consumption. Though there really is no medicinal benefit to drinking Vermouth, this herbal, bitter fortified wine has remained a popular ingredient in mixed drinks and is still enjoyed as a once-a-day preventative in some parts of France and Italy.

Vermouth is made by adding a mixture of herbs and spices to white wine during the fermentation process. Each Vermouth maker uses their own unique blend and these recipes are all closely guarded secrets. This means that the aromas and flavors found in Vermouth can vary considerably from one label to another. After the yeast has fermented out all the sugars, Vermouth is then fortified with a distilled grape liquor and then sweetened with sugar as needed for the particular style.

There are a variety of different styles of Vermouth, including Dry Vermouth, which is a common ingredient in the Martini, and Sweet Vermouth, which is usually red in color thanks to the addition of certain herbs and caramelized sugars. In France and Italy, both Sweet and Dry Vermouth are often enjoyed on their own as an aperitif or a digestif and though you wouldn't want to drink a glass of every type of Vermouth, there are some mild ones that are delicious neat or poured over ice.

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Carpano Antica Italy Vermouth

Our favorite sweet vermouth just so happens to be one of the most highly regarded in the world. Carpano Antica Formula has scored 95 points with Wine Enthusiast and is popular with both professional critics and casual home bartenders. Though the exact recipe is a well-guarded secret, Carpano has been making this style of vermouth since 1786. It has an incredibly complex flavor profile, with notes of rose petal, chamomile, orange zest, cocoa, toffee, and spice. The nose is equally as intricate, with mint, citrus, herbs, figs, and plums. The sweetness is well balanced by an intensely bitter finish, making it excellent on its own or in a Manhattan.

Vya Sweet Vermouth

Two-time winner of the award for best vermouth at the London International Wine Challenge, Vya Sweet Vermouth is one of our Best Picks. This vermouth has been infused with 17 different herbs and spices and has flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, and other sweet spices reminiscent of baked goods. There's plenty of sugary sweetness to Vya Sweet Vermouth, but thanks to an infusion with seeds, roots, and bark, there's also plenty of bitterness, especially on the finish. A moderately priced bottle, this vermouth can be enjoyed on its own or mixed into a cocktail to lend its complexity to your favorite drink.

Cinzano Sweet Vermouth

Cinzano Sweet Vermouth

First made in 1757, Cinzano Sweet Vermouth uses a top-secret blend of herbs and spices that gives it an incredibly complex flavor profile. It has notes of citrus and cinnamon, as will as dried fruit and herbs. It's quite sweet, but the sweetness is perfectly balanced by the bitter aftertaste. Vermouth drinkers who are on a budget will also be happy to learn that a bottle of Cinzano retails for around $10, making it an inexpensive addition to your home bar. Since this is a strongly flavored sweet vermouth, it's best served as a component of a whiskey-based cocktail, or mixed with soda water or spiced apple juice for an aperitif.

Dolin Sweet Vermouth

Dolin Sweet Vermouth

For a sweet vermouth that's mild and not overly sugary, Dolin Sweet Vermouth is an excellent choice. Dolin is known for making crisp vermouths that focus on the subtleties of the herbs and spices. The bitterness is also mild, though perfectly balanced against the understated sweetness. Since Dolin Sweet Vermouth isn't as strong as many others, it can be used in a variety of cocktails, even those that center around lighter spirits, such as vodka or grappa. It can also be enjoyed over ice, or mixed with a little tonic water.

Noilly Prat Sweet Vermouth

Noilly Prat Sweet Vermouth

The top secret recipe used to create Noilly Prat Sweet Vermouth was first created in 1813. Since then, it has been fine tuned and tweaked until the winemakers were able to create a perfectly balanced, sweet, bitter, and aromatic fortified wine. There are 30 different herbs and spices used in the recipe, including cloves, cinnamon, and quinine. Though it can be enjoyed on its own, it is a bit on the strong side, and really shines when added to a whiskey-based cocktail or mixed with tonic water.

Noilly Prat Extra Dry Vermouth

Noilly Prat Extra Dry Vermouth

One of the world's first makers of vermouth, Noilly Prat is known around the world for making some of the best dry vermouth in the world. The basic recipe has been the same since the 1850s and though the specifics are a closely guarded secret, there are around twenty different herbs and spices added to this vermouth. It has flavors of orange peel, cloves, and nutmeg, and a bitter finish. Noilly Prat Extra Dry Vermouth is an essential component of the American Martini and can be added to a variety of other cocktails that could use a touch of aromatics or a little bitterness to cut through a sweet liqueur.

Martini & Rossi Extra Dry Vermouth

Martini & Rossi Extra Dry Vermouth

Martini & Rossi Extra Dry Vermouth was first introduced to the world on New Year's Day 1900. A blend of Italian white wines and a variety of different herbs, this vermouth is ideal when added to vodka or wine based cocktails. Unlike many vermouths, this one isn't overly bitter, instead focusing on the sweet and aromatic qualities of this special type of fortified wine. There's no aftertaste at all, making it perfect when you want a clean finish on your drink. Though it isn't bitter, this isn't a vermouth you'd want to drink on its own; it's much better as a component of a cocktail.

Dolin Dry Vermouth

Dolin Dry Vermouth

Incredibly dry and rather light in terms of both flavor and aromatics, Dolin Dry Vermouth is one of our favorite dry vermouths. It's made from a blend of up to 54 different plants, including chamomile, chincona bark, rose petals, and wormwood, giving it an earthiness and bitterness that makes it an excellent addition to a cocktail. Dolin can also be enjoyed on its own, either chilled or over ice since it isn't as intensely flavorful as most other vermouths. Though it is quite a bit more expensive than most other dry vermouths, it's well balanced and has an excellent flavor. It really is worth the extra price.

Perucchi Gran Reserva Dry Vermouth

Perucchi Gran Reserva Dry Vermouth

Though France and Italy are the main producers of vermouth, Spain has also been working with these aromatic fortified wines for centuries. Perucchi Gran Reserva Dry Vermouth is based on a recipe that dates back to the mid 1800s. There are notes of lemon verbena, ginger, chamomile, mint, cinnamon, and orange blossom on the nose and palate, and a well-balanced bitterness on the finish. A bit smoother than many other vermouths, this one can be enjoyed on its own or mixed into a vodka or gin based cocktail.

Vya Extra Dry Vermouth

In Europe, vermouth is traditionally made with neutral wines, which allows the aromatic herbs to shine through. The Californian creator of Vya Extra Dry Vermouth deviated from the norm, choosing to use a blend of intensely aromatic Orange Muscat and dry white wines as the base for their superb vermouth. The blend of flowers and leaves makes this a quite herbal vermouth that doesn't have the pronounced bitterness that makes many people shy away from vermouth. Instead, this herbal fortified wine is crisp and flavorful, lending complexity to vodka and gin based cocktails. Since it's on the mild side, it can also be enjoyed on the rocks or chilled and served neat.

Crystal Beran
Crystal Beran has spent the past 10 years immersed in the exciting and delicious world of food and drink. She has honed her cooking skills as a baker, a caterer, and a personal chef, and currently spends a good deal of her time training the next generation of young chefs. Her work as a wine steward has helped her to develop a discerning palate and a love of excellent wines from all over the world. Over the years, she has had the good fortune to visit wineries in Northern California, Tanzania, France, and Italy. In her spare time, she brews beer and invents delectable dishes to share with friends, family, and students.
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