FOOD HISTORY: Vermouth

Vermouth is a flavored, fortified (wine with additional alcohol added) wine made from base wines and various herbs and spices, especially Artemisia  plus up to an additional 50 different  ones including, cloves, cinnamon, sage, basil, ginger, star anise, juniper, and gentian,to name just a few. Each producer has their own unique and secret blend. Vermouth is the French word for Artesimia, from the German word, "wermut" or "absinthe  wormwood" in English. Ancient Romans had a wine of this type which they called Absinthiatum vinum. It was first mentioned in what is now Italy in 1773 by  oenologist  C. Villafranchi, in his "Tuscan Oenology" but the first person to duplicate the ancient  recipe was Antonio Bennedetto Carpano, an herbalist, who lived in  the ethnically Italian Piedmonte province of the Kingdom of Sardinia. Carpano combined herbs and spices with the famous Piedmonte sweet Muscatel wine and sold it in his shop. Carpano sent a case of his "new" wine to the King of Sardinia who enjoyed, it so much he adapted it as one of his household wines. As the wine gained in popularity, other wine makers started to make sweet "Vermouths. The Kingdom of Sardinia comprised the island of Sicily and what is now the country of Italy. The province of Savoy, at that time, also, a part of  the Kingdom of Sardinia was ethnically French and the wine makers in that region started to make Vermouth wines, as well..When Italy was unified, the province of Savoy was ceded to France in 1861, by treaty,. In 1813, Joseph Noilly invented the process for making a dry (not sweet) French style of vermouth and in 1855,  his son Louis and his son - in law Claudius Prat founded the Noilly Prat company to produce and sell their Vermouth. Their dry Vermouth is made from white grape varietals noted for their acidity which are aged in large Canadian oak barrels for eight months before being transferred to smaller barrels and moved outdoors for a year where the wine oxidizes and stabilizes while concentrating due to evaporation and picking up oak flavors from the barrels When moved back indoors, brandy and a secret blend of herbs and spices are added. after three weeks infusion the wine is filtered, rested for six more weeks, then bottled and sold. Almost all current Vermouth's are made from white grapes but a few are made from red, as well. Some of the major brands are the European brands,  Cinzano, Noilly Prat, Martini and Rossi and the American companies, Vya, Imbue and Atsby. Most everyone knows that Vermouths can be used a as aperitifs, by themselves, and are  integral ingredients in the well known cocktails; Martini, Manhatten, Negroni and the Americano. However, the dry Vermouth's can be  used in cooking, as well, substituting for any white wine called for in a recipe and will impart its own unique flavor to the dish.