What exactly is vermouth?

What exactly is vermouth?

Your drinking guide

Text: Yeong Sassall

Image: Regal Rogue

Vermouth, once the staple ingredient of many an old-fashioned cocktail, has copped a pretty daggy reputation over the years

Often overlooked and easily misunderstood, it's not hard to see why it's often just plain avoided. But with the health-conscious among us now paying close attention to the source of our food and drink, and with most homes now consisting of a window box or mini herb garden to grow your own herbs, now is the time to explore the world of vermouth.

Most people probably don't realise that Vermouth is simply an aromatised wine. To be classed as vermouth, 75 per cent of the liquid must be wine based, which is then fortified creating an ABV of 15-24 per cent. Wine like a sauvignon blanc or shiraz is used as the base, but the secret to most recipes comes down to the herbal make up of that recipe giving it its unique style.

Vermouth was a huge hit up until the early '90s (before the resurgence of vodka began) and was celebrated by many starts on and off screen with big advertising campaigns. The most familiar brands are Martini and Cinzano, however, in the last year alone the world has seen over fifty craft vermouth brands launch, many of those Australian. 

regal rogue

In 2009, I spotted a gap in the market and decided to launch my own brand, Regal Rogue. Now an award-winning label, Regal Rogue vermouths blend Australian wine varieties with native Australian herbs and spices. With a unique aperitif style and half the standard sugar of most European vermouths, Regal Rogue is a smart option for the health conscious. With up to 18 herbs and spices in each varietal, you'd know most of these ingredients from alternative medicine as having established medicinal or antioxidant benefits.

Like wine, vermouth is based on varietals. Regal Rogue features an 'Aromatic White' using sauvignon blanc and semillon wine, aromatised with native thyme, desert limes, finger limes and lemon myrtle, plus, a 'Spiced Red' with semillon and shiraz wines, aromatised with native pepperberry and wattleseed. Stay tuned for 'Wild Rose' and 'Daringly Dry' varietals, too. It's almost as if we've delivered the best Australian wine mixed with your own herb garden to a glass. 

Perfect for the outdoor-focused Australian lifestyle, vermouth is a lower alcohol, flavour-packed option. Try serving it neat over ice with matching seasonal produce or lengthened in a glass with a sparkling elderflower presse or a traditional ginger beer. Other great brands to try include MAiDENii and Causes & Cures (Australia), Cocchi (Italy) and The Collector (UK).


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