Vermouth is an alcoholic drink made from a red or white wine base infused with any of a wide variety of aromatic herbs. It’s mostly used as a basis for cocktails. Its name comes from one herb in particular – wormwood.
Vermouth is produced in the foothills of the Alps on both the French and Italian sides, where the necessary herbs are readily available.
The commonest French vermouth is a dry white version, as used to make ‘dry Martini’ cocktails. Italian vermouth, by contrast, is mostly sweet. Both white and red (bianco and rosso) are made. The red vermouth is a key ingredient in the cocktail ‘Manhattan’.
The most famous producers of vermouth include Martini, Rossi and Cinzano.