La Quintinye Vermouth Royal
Blanc or Rouge
But, perhaps first, what is vermouth?
At its core, vermouth is a wine based spirit, enhanced by herbs and spices and fortified with neutral spirits (think unaged brandy). The result is a beverage that serves primarily as an aperitif (before the meal) and cocktail addition (think a Manhattan). Vermouth presents itself in a variety of styles, flavors and hues and has been making a comeback in the market for the past decade, largely due to renewed interest in cocktails. By changing your vermouth, you can subtly (or dramatically) change the flavor profile of your favorite cocktail. The famous ‘shaken, not stirred’ Martini of the big screen James Bond, becomes the Vespa of Ian Fleming’s (original) literary Bond with the substitution of Lillet for dry (white) vermouth.
My interest, however, in vermouth is in its virtues as a stand alone beverage. Pour any quality vermouth over ice, add a twist of orange (or lemon or lime), perhaps some club soda and Voila! instant simple, refreshing, low-alcohol cocktail! And because vermouths are fortified (the addition of spirits) they have a longer shelf life than the typical bottle of wine…weeks rather than days (although I would refrigerate after opening).This particular family of vermouth, La Quintinye Vermouth Royal, is from Cognac and is named to honor the famed gardens of Versailles, whose beauty and diversity is accredited to the 17th century botanist Jean-Baptiste de la Quintinye. The Pineau des Charentes (grape must and eau de vie) and wines that are the basis are then enlivened and flavored with a dozen plants and spices to create the uncommon yet delicious, savory, sweet and exquisitely balanced elixir in your glass. Whether a vermouth innocent or informed practitioner, you’ll find La Quintinye a delight and welcome addition to your ‘cabinet’. (PW)