Vermouth is really a fortified, aromatized wine. The practice of aromatizing wine dates back to the Ancient Greeks done to mask poor wine. Now it is done to add extra complexity to something already good. It also proved to be an effective form of early homeopathic medicine. Right up until the 20th century, doctors regularly prescribed Vermouths and aromatized liqueurs for a wide variety of illnesses. And to this day, many people the world over continue imbibing a glass per day for medicinal reasons.
Dolin begins production with base wine, always white, light in alcohol (10% by volume), and as neutral as possible, both on the nose and palate. To this they add a selection of herbs and plants, which are left to macerate several months. The exact recipe is a closely guarded secret, but there are up to 54 different plants used, most notably wormwood, but also hyssop, camomile, genepi, chincona bark, and rose petals. The final results are then lightly sugared.
Up until now, Vermouth wasn’t a liquor that I would have contemplated drinking straight. Boy did I get a wakeup call tasting a lineup of Dolin vermouths made from a recipe originating in 1821. Each one had fresh springy flavors that would almost be a shame to dilute by mixing with other ingredients.
Produced in Chambéry France, once the capital of the Duchy of Savoy, this bustling mountain town is now the commercial center of the French Alps, Dolin offers 3 distinct types of vermouth…Dry which is notably lighter with a subtle, complex bittersweet palate, drier and less pungent than other commercial heavy weight brands. The Blanc and Rouge have just the right balance of sugar and bitterness to whet the appetite. All can be enjoyed as aperitif on ice, with a twist of citrus, or in a broad array of traditional cocktails.
Photo courtesy of Steve Mirsky