The bittersweet, flavoured liqueur wine is experiencing a renaissance 
Vermouth is a fascinating drink that combines both history and flavour. A world in which herbs and spices not only play a leading role in the kitchen, but also in your glass: this is the world of vermouth. A hint of bitter flavour and a dash of joie de vivre - vermouth is on trend and delights bartenders and connoisseurs alike.  
Wine, the fermented juice of the vine, has been infused with highly aromatic flavour enhancers such as herbs, roots, flowers and bark for thousands of years. Long relegated to the background, the variety of bittersweet herbal wines is growing today. 

From medicinal herbal wine in the Mediterranean to a classic aperitif 

The journey of vermouth began in the late 18th century in Italy and France, where it originated as a medicinal herbal wine. Yes, that's right - vermouth was originally used as a remedy! The main ingredient that gives vermouth its characteristic flavour is wormwood herb (Artemisia absinthium), a bitter herb that has been used in folk medicine for centuries. But don't worry, the flavour of vermouth is far from pure bitter due to the addition of sugar and a variety of herbs and spices such as cinnamon, cardamom and citrus fruits.

Over time, vermouth developed into a popular aperitif. This is a drink that is enjoyed before a meal to stimulate the appetite. In Italy and France, where eating is an art form, vermouth quickly became an integral part of the food culture. In Italy, vermouth tends to be sweeter and stronger, whereas in France it is often drier and more subtle. 

The flavour is characterised by the wormwood herb

Vermouth is not a spirit, but a liqueur wine: a flavoured wine with a higher alcohol and sugar content. As with gin and juniper, the flavour is largely determined by the wormwood herb that gives it its name. Ingredients such as the finest mountain or alpine herbs, citrus peel, selected flowers, berries, roots and spices are also used. Mediterranean classics are particularly popular among the herbs: rosemary, basil, lavender, bergamot, but also oriental notes of cinnamon and cardamom create true flavour explosions on the tongue. There are virtually no limits to creativity when it comes to vermouth and there are numerous brands on the market today.

To be classified as vermouth, the product must consist of 75 per cent wine and contain between 14.5 and 22 per cent alcohol by volume. The most common variety is red vermouth, which is usually slightly sweeter than white vermouth. Rosé vermouth is also popular, not just in summer, and, like red vermouth, is somewhat sweeter.
So what makes a good vermouth? It is the balance. The perfect harmony between sweetness, bitterness and the aromatic herbs and spices. Every vermouth is unique because every producer has their own secret recipe, which has often been passed down for generations. Whether you prefer sweet vermouth or dry vermouth, today every connoisseur can buy their favourite vermouth. 

Masterclass vermouth comes from France 

At BEHN, we are passionate about La Quintinye Vermouth Royal from our partner Maison Villevert. This fine vermouth in the Rouge, Blanc and Extra Dry varieties comes from the heart of Charente, an exquisite wine-growing region in France that is also home of cognac. La Quintinye Vermouth Royal is a tribute to the botanist Jean-Baptiste de la Quintinie (1626-1688), who created the famous "Potager du Roi", the kitchen garden of the Palace of Versailles, for King Louis XIV.  

No Martini, Manhattan or Negroni without vermouth

There are many ways and occasions to enjoy vermouth: pure or on ice, the classic is a perfect aperitif: garnished with a slice of lemon or orange, the eye is also delighted by the beautiful play of colours in the glass. Infused with Prosecco or soda, a high-quality sparkling water, it can be enjoyed even longer and optionally a little lighter, ideal in summer or when served as an accompanying drink. If you like it a little more bitter, top it up with tonic water. Vermouth also shines in cocktails and is a key ingredient in many classic cocktails. Have you ever enjoyed a Negroni, Martini or Manhattan? Without vermouth, these popular cocktails would not be what they are today. Vermouth gives them a complex, aromatic depth that is not easily forgotten. Whether for a relaxed evening with friends or a special moment for two, vermouth impresses with its versatility for a variety of occasions and is always worth considering.

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