Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About

Modern-day vermouth derives from a medicinal wine made in 18th-century Italy, which the Germans named Vermut after its main ingredient, wormwood (see box). Today it’s essentially a flavored wine fortified to about 18% alcohol, used mainly in mixed drinks and in cooking. Vermouth is made in both Italy and France from a neutral white wine flavored with dozens of herbs and spices, and sometimes sweetened (up to 16% sugar). The French usually extract the flavorings in the wine itself, while the Italians extract or co-distill them with the fortification alcohol. Once fortified, the wine is aged for several months.