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Carpano Antica Formula Italian Vermouth

20160504-080158.jpg Wine Wednesday is about this lovely bottle of Italian vermouth that was a gift to me awhile back. Carpano Antica Formula is best served chilled, over ice. As an aperitif or to enjoy after a meal. First invented in 1786 in Turin by Antonio Benedetto Carpano, it is made from white wine and Piedmontese Muscate–wines of southern Italy. Its taste comes from selected brewed mountain herbs, although the most prominent feature is the vanilla bouquet, with notes of spices and dried fruit such as star anise, orange peel and dates. I pulled this description of taste from their site, as the flavor is really quite complex and I wanted you all to get a better sense of it than if I just said it tasted vanilla citrus herb-y.

A little vermouth tutorial, as I think vermouth is making a comeback and there was lots I did not know about it until recently so here is a bit of background by way of trusty Wikipedia.

Vermouth is an aromatized wine, a type of fortified wine flavored with various botanicals (roots, barks, flowers, seeds, herbs, spices). The modern versions of the beverage were first produced in the mid to late 18th century in Turin, Italy. While vermouth was traditionally used for medicinal purposes, its true claim to fame is as an aperitif, with fashionable cafes in Turin serving it to guests around the clock. However, in the late 19th century it became popular with bartenders as a key ingredient in many classic cocktails that have survived to date, such as the Martini, the Manhattan, the Rob Roy and the Negroni. In addition to being consumed as an aperitif or cocktail ingredient, vermouth is sometimes used as an alternative white wine in cooking. Historically, there have been two main types of vermouth, sweet and dry. Resulting from demand and competition, vermouth manufacturers have created additional styles, including extra-dry white, sweet white (bianco), red, amber (ambre or rosso), and rosé. Vermouth is produced by starting with a base of a neutral grape wine or unfermented wine must. Each manufacturer adds additional alcohol and a proprietary mixture of dry ingredients, consisting of aromatic herbs, roots, and barks, to the base wine, base wine plus spirit or spirit only – which may be redistilled before adding to the wine or unfermented wine must. After the wine is aromatized and fortified, the vermouth is sweetened with either cane sugar or caramelized sugar, depending on the style. Italian and French companies produce most of the vermouth consumed throughout the world, although the United States and the United Kingdom are also producers.



 

 

A Reverse Martini

20150717-084820.jpg I am the type of martini drinker that does not even open the vermouth bottle while making my own. Just glancing at the bottle while I am shaking the shaker away is just fine by me. So the fact that I am liking a reverse martini comes as quite a big surprise to me. This all came about when I was finishing up my latest read Dearie, about Julia Child. Whether or not she came up with this idea I am not certain, but it is the first I had ever heard of it. A reverse martini is 2/3 vermouth to a 1/3 gin. Shaken and then served over ice. I first gave this a try the other day at Hawthorne, and I really liked it. Super refreshing. It has the feel of a Summer drink. I don’t really drink martinis during the hot months, as they seem to get warm as opposed to super chilled, which is how I really like them. Plus a big tub of gin in the heat makes me sleepy. With this, the vermouth becomes the star. The gin is just a stylish background singer. A fresh bottle of vermouth is helpful. My studying around on the topic found that vermouth can loose a bit of its fabulousness when old. So often a bottle can last ages, so easy to see this happening. We had a newish bottle of Dolin that worked quite lovely. Julia preferred Noilly Prat, so we picked up a bottle of that yesterday, which meant I had to give it a test run last night. Insert smile. I think I actually preferred the Noilly. Julia gets it right again.