cocchi vermouth

An introduction to vermouth

Vermouth isn’t just for summer, it’s a fantabulous drink to have all year round.  Just like gin and rum, there is a huge variety of Vermouth purveyors out there.  The main decision you make is whether you want sweet or dry vermouth.  Once you have found your base, venture out into extra-dry white, sweet white (blanc or bianco), red (rosso), amber (ambre), and rosé.  It’s a versatile drink, as you can drink it neat with or without ice, top up with tonic or soda water, use it in a variety of cocktails or use it in place of white wine in cooking. Vermouth can also be paired with cheese.

la quintinye vermouth

What is vermouth?

Vermouth is a fortified wine, which is a wine to which a distilled spirit usually brandy has been added, which is then is flavoured with a variety of herbs and spices.

What is dry vermouth?

Also known as white vermouth, dry vermouth is clear or pale yellow in colouring. It contains 5 % sugar, hence the dry label.  Dry vermouth is usually light with a herbal, floral fruity nose. It’s not a hard and fast rule but most dry vermouths come from France.

What is sweet vermouth?

Also known as red vermouth, sweet vermouth is red and has a sweeter taste than white vermouth.  There is 15% sugar in sweet vermouth.  Sweet vermouth generally has a fuller flavour with fruity and vanilla notes and typically you will find that these come from Spain and Italy.

Cocktails using vermouth

Martini: Dry vermouth and gin or vodka.  A ‘dry martini’ is made with less vermouth, and ‘bone dry’ means only a small splash is added.

Manhattan: use sweet vermouth here for extra layers of flavour.

Negroni: Equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth.

Click here for more Drinks ideas.

Most people know about Martini. Other famous brands include Cinzano, Dolin, Lillet, and Noilly Prat but what about more specialist bottles?

Some vermouth to try

Quintinye Vermouth Royal Rouge La Quintinye is a blend of red Pineau des Charentes wine and 28 different botanicals. It is named in honour of Jean-Baptiste de la Quintinye, who was a botanist and gardener to Louis XIV.

Buy from Master of Malt, Oddbins The Whisky Exchange and Amazon.

la quintinye vermouth

El Bandarra Rojo is made with over 50 native botanicals and local fruits including clove, cinnamon and bitter orange making this vermouth smooth but full of flavour. Best served on the rock with a slice of orange and an olive.

Available from WaitroseAmazonThe Whisky Exchange, Master of Malt

Starlino Rosso is a classic “Vermouth di Torino” and best served in a Manhattan or Negroni, or topped up with tonic, sparkling wine or soda.

Buy from Amazon

Cocchi Vermouth di Torino Extra Dry uses a “Ricetta Piemontese” (“Piedmontese Recipe”) with all the main ingredients coming, or with strong links to the region. The base wine used is made of local Cortese grapes, the same used for Gavi DOCG and botanicals such as wormwood, angelica, coriander, cardamom, lemon peel and Menta di Pancalieri, a Piedmontese mint.   

Buy from The Whisky Exchange or Waitrose.

Valentian Vermouth Rosso is a rich yet delicate vermouth with botanicals including rhubarb, sage, laurel, gentian root, liquorice root, ginger, sweet and bitter orange, three varieties of wormwood, cinnamon and bergamot.  Valentian Vermouth have dared to pair a crisp Italian white wine with Scottish new-make malt spirit

Buy from Master of Malt  and Craft56


Valentian Scottish vermouth



I am Emma and with my husband Mark write Foodie Explorers, which is a food and travel website.

I am a member of the Guild of Food Writers and British Guild of Travel Writers.

We have a wide range of judging experience covering products, hotels and have judged, for example, for Great Taste Awards and Scottish Baker of the Year.

Along the way Mark gained WSET Level 2 in Wine and I have WSET Level 2 in Spirits as well as picking up an award with The Scotsman Food and Drink Awards.    

Usually I can be found sleeping beside a cat.

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