The vermouth that we now drink and cook with now was first produced in the 18th century in Italy. It was originally used as a treatment for stomach disorders, then became popular aperitif in the cafes of Turin. It then became a key ingredient in cocktails such as the Negroni, the Manhattan and perhaps most famously the Martini. There two main types are sweet and dry vermouth which are made from a base wine flavoured with amongst other ingredients cloves, cinnamon, citrus peel, cardamom, chamomile, coriander, hyssop, juniper, and ginger, fortified with a spirit, such as grape brandy and sweetened with cane sugar. The exact recipe for each vermouth is kept secret by the individual manufacturers.
Vermouth can be substituted for white wine in cooking but because of the aromatic flavours it can overpower more delicate ingredients. It is most often used in recipes for oysters, scallops, and fish, but also compliments fennel, pork, and chicken. Perhaps the most famous dish with vermouth is Sole Veronique, poached fillets of sole in a vermouth cream sauce garnished with skinned, deseeded green grapes.
Cooking with Vermouth