Infused for Summer: Vermouth
Vermouth is a fortified wine infused with botanicals, herbs, spices, fruits, and sometimes vegetables. Among the ingredients is usually the aromatic plant wormwood (from which the word vermouth is derived). Each vermouth producer has his or her own (often secret) recipe. Either white wine or red wine can be used as the base, and the enticing flavor is often vividly bitter, sweet, and savory all at once. At 16 to 19 percent alcohol (slightly higher than table wine) vermouth is usually drunk chilled as a snappy aperitif, or used as a refreshing ingredient in a cocktail. (Perfect for summer in both cases!) Several large companies make serviceable commercial vermouths (Martini & Rossi; Noilly Prat). But the most delicious vermouths are hand crafted, artisanal products made by small producers in Europe and increasingly in the United States. Some favorite examples: Matthiasson and Uncouth Vermouth from the U.S.; La Copa from Spain; and Berto and Carpano Antica Formula from Italy.