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Aromatized Wines {


Four categories in the world of aromatized wines stand out for their enduring impact on and historical importance to classic drinks. The primary three focus on one specific botanical; wormwood for vermouth, gentian for Americano, and cinchona for quinquina or chinato. Take note these are defined Aromatized Wine categories in the European Union (and in preceding French and Italian laws), so any product labeled as Vermouth, Americano, or Quinquina must be an Aromatized Wine. A wine-based version of the gentian-infused "red bitter" category, such as Cappelletti Aperitivo, is also an aromatized wine.

Vermouth

Vermouth comes from the German word for wormwood—vermut—recalling a Germanic tradition dating to the middle ages. Wormwood (artemisia absinthium) has a weedy, eucalyptus, intensely herbaceous character that attacks both the front and back palate. Infusing wine with wormwood in any meaningful quantity imparts great herbaciousness and a bitter undertone.

Americano

Americano is a play on the name ‘amaricante’, an Italian term for bittered, as well a nod to the ‘American’ way of adding bitters to vermouth. The main botanical, gentian root, has floral, radish and earthy notes, expressed in the middle palate.

Quinquina

French Quinquina and Italian Chinato both have cinchona (quinine—think tonic) as the prime botanical but have different traditions for the wine base. Italian chinato usually uses red wines, while French quinquina has a tradition of using wines or mistelle (fortified grape juice). The chinchona imparts a sweet, flat, drying spice flavor experienced in the back palate.

Vino Amaro

Vino Amaro may use different botanical bases and is often considered the predecessor to the spirit-based products of today.

Keeping These Wines

These are indeed wines, and fortification does not keep them from oxidizing and losing their optimal taste. Because of their fresh wine bases, which by EU and US law must be a minimum of 75% wine, all aromatized wines are best kept chilled once opened and used within 1 to 2 weeks of opening. If in doubt about an aperitif wine’s condition, let your nose be your guide, just as you would with any still wine.

    Vermouth
    Dolin Dry Vermouth de Chambéry

    Dolin Dry Vermouth de Chambéry

    FranceSavoie

    17.5% Alc/Vol

    Dolin Dry is distinguished by its light, fresh and clean profile, which comes from a delicate wine base and more than thirty Alpine herbs. From its start in 1821, Dolin Vermouth de Chambéry has been the benchmark for fine French Vermouth. Its fresh and elegant nose, subtle and complex palate is the profile that made the 1:1 gin/dry vermouth Martini famous, and so often imitated by others. In the 1930’s Chambéry earned France’s only protected designation of origin for Vermouth. Beyond mixed drinks, it is an ideal aperitif or accompaniment to raw shellfish, goat cheese or pesto. In cooking, Dolin Dry adds depth and an herbal character that normal white wine cannot. Full details

    Dolin Dry Vermouth de Chambéry
    Dolin Dry Vermouth de Chambéry
    Dolin Blanc Vermouth de Chambéry

    Dolin Blanc Vermouth de Chambéry

    FranceSavoie

    16.0% Alc/Vol

    The clear, sweet Blanc variety of vermouth was first created and made famous by Dolin in Chambéry long before Italian producers replicated the style as ‘Bianco’. The Blanc is traditionally served with a sliced strawberry, a splash of soda and a twist. There may be no better choice for cocktails such as El Presidente or a Blond Negroni. In other cocktails, Dolin Blanc pairs well with blanco tequila, unaged whiskey, or other flavorful clear spirits. It is ideal for infusions of melon or other fruit, and an appetizing accompaniment to a wide variety of cheeses. Full details

    Dolin Blanc Vermouth de Chambéry
    Dolin Blanc Vermouth de Chambéry
    Dolin Rouge Vermouth de Chambéry

    Dolin Rouge Vermouth de Chambéry

    FranceSavoie

    16.0% Alc/Vol

    Dolin Rouge imparts lovely spicy notes amid its light and fresh profile, with a clean finish to complement and not overwhelm a drink’s other components. More than fifty herbs flavor Dolin Rouge; its profile is firm and balanced, without the excessive sweet or lingering aftertastes found in large commercial products. It makes for an exceptional Manhattan that does not bury the tastes of rye or bourbon, even at classic 1:1 proportions. Refreshes a Negroni, too. Dolin Rouge and a twist pairs well with charcuterie or black olives and works perfectly in tomato or meat cookery. Full details

    Dolin Rouge Vermouth de Chambéry
    Dolin Rouge Vermouth de Chambéry
    Comoz Blanc Vermouth de Chambéry

    Comoz Blanc Vermouth de Chambéry

    FranceSavoie

    16% Alc/Vol

    Established in 1856, Comoz was the second-oldest of Chambéry vermouth producers after Dolin, and was perhaps the first to produce the crystal-clear Blanc style. Introduced in 1881, Comoz Vermouth Blanc expressed Claudius Comoz’s selection of wines, plants and fruits, many of which come from the hills above Chambéry. True to its historic character, Comoz Blanc is less sweet than other vermouth blanc, with notes of stone fruits, alpine flowers and a deep, resonant undercurrent of wormwood. Drink on the rocks with a twist, or mix with gin, vodka, or blanco tequila. Full details

    Comoz Blanc Vermouth de Chambéry
    Comoz Blanc Vermouth de Chambéry
    Miró Extra Seco Vermut de Reus

    Miró Extra Seco Vermut de Reus

    SpainCatalunyaVermut de Reus

    17.0% Alc/Vol

    This vermouth has a distinctly Catalan character, and embodies many of the savory flavors found in the famed olives of the region. Truly dry—with no added sugar—it is made with herbs sourced from the Pyrenees mountains and citrus of the Mediterranean. Its wine base of Airén (La Mancha) and Macabeo (Penedes) adds a nice minerality. Enjoy neat, with a splash of tonic, or in a 1:1 Martini. The town of Reus (near Tarragona in Catalonia) is the historic epicenter for vermouth production in Spain, where for over a century the Miro name has set the benchmark for its wormwood-forward style. All production is today overseen by the family patriarch Pere Miro. Full details

    Miró Extra Seco Vermut de Reus
    Miró Extra Seco Vermut de Reus
    Miró Rojo Vermut de Reus

    Miró Rojo Vermut de Reus

    SpainCatalunyaVermut de Reus

    15.0% Alc/Vol

    Founder Emilio Miro Salvat earned great admiration for this well rounded and wormwood-forward ‘Rojo’ sweet red vermouth. Its easy style is ideal for the Catalan tradition of the ‘vermouth hour’, enjoying a glass on the rocks with olives. Miro Rojo also marries beautifully with rye or bourbon, revealing notes of baking spices. The town of Reus (near to Tarragona in Catalonia) is the historic epicenter for vermouth production in Spain, where for over a century the Miro name has set the benchmark for its wormwood-forward style. All production is today overseen by the family patriarch Pere Miro. Full details

    Miró Rojo Vermut de Reus
    Miró Rojo Vermut de Reus
    Cocchi Vermouth di Torino

    Cocchi Vermouth di Torino

    ItalyPiemonteVermouth di Torino DOP

    16.5% Alc/Vol

    The last remaining example of appellation Vermouth di Torino to comply with all of the classical requirements, Cocchi Vermouth di Torino has been produced since 1891. Cocchi uses estate Moscato as the wine base, and vibrant, spicy botanicals such as cocoa, citrus, ginger, and rhubarb. In contrast with other popular Italian vermouths, Cocchi Vermouth di Torino retains wines of Piedmont as the base and avoids a heavy sheen of vanilla that clashes with other cocktail ingredients. Vermouth di Torino stands apart as one of only two protected geographical indications of origin for vermouth, and is the style referenced by classic cocktail books when discussing “Italian vermouth.” Full details

    Cocchi Vermouth di Torino
    Cocchi Vermouth di Torino
    Cocchi “Dopo Teatro” Vermouth Amaro

    Cocchi “Dopo Teatro” Vermouth Amaro

    ItalyPiemonte

    16.5% Alc/Vol

    The name ‘Dopo Teatro’ refers to the late-evening, “after theater” service at restaurants and cafes in Torino, a gathering time for a sip of something bittersweet and maybe a small bite to eat. This “vermouth amaro” (vermouth with added bitterness) uses Cocchi’s classic Vermouth di Torino as its base. From there, winemaker Giulio Bava adds a number of additional botanicals, including chiretta flowers and a double dose of cinchona bark. The result is a robust amaro that retains the refreshing acidity of the original Vermouth. Pair with spicy chocolate preparations, or mix with intense bourbons or ryes, mezcal, or gin. Full details

    Cocchi “Dopo Teatro” Vermouth Amaro
    Cocchi “Dopo Teatro” Vermouth Amaro
    Americano
    Cocchi Americano Rosa

    Cocchi Americano Rosa

    ItalyPiemonte

    16.5% Alc/Vol

    Throughout its history, Giulio Cocchi has used the aperitif wine Americano profile to highlight the fine aromatic grapes of Piemonte. In Cocchi Americano Rosa, the Brachetto d’Acqui wine base provides the white rose and rich berry notes typical of the famous sparkling wine of the same variety, while the addition of rose and ginger to the traditional bitter base provides a rounder profile. Full details

    Cocchi Americano Rosa
    Cocchi Americano Rosa
    Cocchi Americano Bianco

    Cocchi Americano Bianco

    ItalyPiemonte

    16.5% Alc/Vol

    Made to the same recipe since 1891, this Moscato-based aperitif wine has long been a staple of Asti. While the Americano name implies a gentian focus, the wine also includes quinine and citrus for a flavorful, refreshing profile. In Piemonte it is served chilled with ice, a splash of soda and a peel of orange. Cocchi Americano Bianco’s combination of fruit, spice and bitter undertones can perfect a number of classic mixed drinks. This same profile makes it splendid pairing with all kinds of pickles, nuts, charcuterie and cheeses. Full details

    Cocchi Americano Bianco
    Cocchi Americano Bianco
    Quinquina/Chinato
    Byrrh Grand Quinquina

    Byrrh Grand Quinquina

    FranceRoussillon

    18.0% Alc/Vol

    Byrrh Grand Quinquina is made to the original late-19th century recipe that earned worldwide fame and inspired fifty years of evocative poster art. Byrrh combines a generous, port-like wine and mistelle base with a firm backbone of natural quinine to produce a fruity, refreshing aperitif by itself, with tonic and a twist, or paired with blue cheese. In cocktails, Byrrh mixes well with vodka, gin, cognac, tequila, Irish whiskey, and grapefruit. Byrrh is produced in Thuir, in the heart of French Catalan territory, near the coast and border with Spain. Full details

    Byrrh Grand Quinquina
    Byrrh Grand Quinquina
    Cocchi Barolo Chinato

    Cocchi Barolo Chinato

    ItalyPiemonte

    16.5% Alc/Vol

    Renowned in Piemonte since its introduction in 1891, Cocchi Barolo Chinato is a wine of DOCG Barolo infused with quinine bark, rhubarb, ginger, cardamom, cocoa, and a variety of other aromatic spices. Round and rich, yet with the deep back palate once expects of Barolo, this wine possesses the definition necessary to be an ideal digestif or pairing with dark chocolate. Serve as you would serve high-quality port or Madeira, or use as a luxurious alternative to sweet red vermouth. You would not be alone in finding this to be the Rolls Royce (or Maserati) of Italian dessert wines. Full details

    Cocchi Barolo Chinato
    Cocchi Barolo Chinato
    Bonal Gentiane-Quina

    Bonal Gentiane-Quina

    FranceSavoie

    16.0% Alc/Vol

    Since 1865, this spicy, earthy aperitif has been known as “ouvre l’appétit” - the key to the appetite. Serious in its role as an aperitif, and then popular with sportsmen, Bonal became an early sponsor of the Tour de France. It is made by an infusion of gentian, cinchona (quinine) and renowned herbs of the Grande Chartreuse mountains in a mistelle base. While tradition is to drink neat with a twist, Bonal also mixes well with fresh or hard cider, sparkling wine, and Scotch or American whiskies. Excellent with hard, salty cheeses, salted nuts, or earthy, spicy foods. Full details

    Bonal Gentiane-Quina
    Bonal Gentiane-Quina
    Mattei Cap Corse Blanc

    Mattei Cap Corse Blanc

    FranceCorsica

    17% Alc/Vol

    A true Quinquina Blanc, and unique among aperitif wines. The profile of the Cap Corse Mattei BLANC aperitif wine is defined by its distinctly Corsican components. Its all-mistelle base is of Vermentinu and Muscat Petit Grains, lending a terrific minerality, acidity and floral tones. The local Cedrat (aka citron) adds unique citrus aroma and a silky texture. Since its creation in 1872 by Louis-Napoléon Mattei, Cap Corse Mattei is the oldest and best known aperitif of Corsica. Still today family owned, and all macerations, aging and bottling are done in house. Full details

    Mattei Cap Corse Blanc
    Mattei Cap Corse Blanc
    Mattei Cap Corse Rouge

    Mattei Cap Corse Rouge

    FranceCorsica

    17% Alc/Vol

    Among the most famous of French Quinquina, enjoyed for generations by visitors and residents of the Island of Corsica. It is composed of a variety of local and exotic spices, walnuts and cinchona bark (quinine) on a base of Corsican Muscat and Vermentinu mistelles. The result is an aperitif of tremendous depth with a wonderfully dry finish. Since its creation in 1872 by Louis-Napoléon Mattei, Cap Corse Mattei is the oldest and best known aperitif of Corsica. Full details

    Mattei Cap Corse Rouge
    Mattei Cap Corse Rouge
    Vino Amaro
    Pasubio

    Pasubio

    ItalyTrentino-Alto Adige

    17% Alc/Vol

    Pasubio is a true taste of the Dolomite Mountains in the Trentino region. On a base of rich aged wine you’ll find notes of blueberries, pine and smoke, together with bitter alpine herbs. It is rare among amari to feature mountain berries. The recipe from Giuseppe Cappelletti dates back to the early 20th century and is among the Erboristeria’s first amari. Traditionally enjoyed neat, typically at cellar temperature or chilled. Also pairs well in mixed drinks with bourbon, rye, or brandy. Full details

    Pasubio
    Pasubio
    Elisir Novasalus

    Elisir Novasalus

    ItalyTrentino-Alto Adige

    16.0% Alc/Vol

    Perhaps the most earnest of digestivi, Elisir Novasalus is revered in Alto Adige and regions beyond. Made by an Erboristeria (master of botanicals) and trader in wines, it combines in a six-month process the plants from the surrounding high alps (Alto Adige) with a dry Marsala and a unique tree sap of Sicily. The resulting amaro is bold, bitter and exceptionally complex, with layers upon layers of flavor. Famously comforting after a large meal. While not traditionally mixed, it is nicely followed by a small glass of sparkling wine. Unrivalled in its palate effect, it makes for a perfect finish to a meal. Full details

    Elisir Novasalus
    Elisir Novasalus
    Cardamaro Vino Amaro

    Cardamaro Vino Amaro

    ItalyPiemonte

    17.0% Alc/Vol

    Cardamaro is a longstanding product of what is today a 4th-generation winemaker in Canelli d’Asti. The primary flavors of Cardamaro are cardoon and blessed thistle, with a short repose in oak for spice and and texture. Drink as aperitif or digestif, outstanding with cider, or use in place of vermouth in many cocktails. Because of the subtle oak treatment, it is possible to use Cardamaro in place of bourbon or rye; combine with Dolin rouge for a lighter take on a Manhattan. Pair with saltier cheeses or charcuterie. Full details

    Cardamaro Vino Amaro
    Cardamaro Vino Amaro
    Aromatized Wines
    Aperitivo Cappelletti

    Aperitivo Cappelletti

    ItalyTrentino-Alto Adige

    17.0% Alc/Vol

    The Aperitivo Cappelletti, endearingly known to locals as just “Specialino”, may be the oldest style of the classic red bitter still in production. Unlike its larger commercial rivals, Cappelletti is less sweet and has a wonderful drying finish. Additionally, it still uses natural carmine color for a crimson red and retains a vinous texture from its wine base. It offers a vibrant and flavorful profile, complemented by bitter undertones on a traditional wine base. This yields a Negroni or Spritz that is dry and refreshing in the finish. It is made just outside of Trento in Alto Adige by the Cappelletti family, who also produce a number of other exceptional aperitivi and amari. Full details

    Aperitivo Cappelletti
    Aperitivo Cappelletti