So here is the thing...CT has a reputation for not drinking vermouth (depending on who you ask), but there is an in-the-know, under-ground contingent that actually do drink vermouth - and the choices are better than ever.
The other thing that is notable about vermouth is that it is GOOD, and is low in alcohol, and it tastes great. Ok, that may have been three things, but it's good.
The Poli family is one of the oldest producers of grappa and other distillates in the Veneto region of Italy. Going back as early as the 1400s, they have been responsible for maintaining production of a product, grappa, that is a little misunderstood (at best) and often not liked by many (except older Italian guys). Poli grappa and the bottles that it often comes in, have become iconic, and have led to other producers making delicate and ornate bottles in order to sell their product. This is done to elevate the lonely grappa to a level of perceived elegance that it never really had, and thus give it a place in the drinking world that it would not normally have had. Poli grappa are pretty outstanding actually.
But this is not a story about grappa. Poli also makes wonderful vermouth. Gran Bassano is the label and there is a Bianco and a Rosso. Gentle, surprisingly delicious beverages that are perfect to drink on their own.
Gran Bassano Bianco is based on Vespaiolo, a grape that grows in the Veneto - the huge wine region that covers most of the northeast part of Italy. I think when most people think of vermouth, they are thinking Martinis or Manhattan cocktails, and are not really excited. What has been (re)discovered though, is that when you put this over ice with a little twist of lemon or orange, then you will have some thing incredible. This is the way vermouth was meant to be drunk. The Bianco is delicious on its own or mixed into a simple drink with soda and ice, perhaps.
The Gran Bassano Rosso is a red vermouth based on Merlot, and just jumps with strawberry and rhubarb, vanilla and spice. Not heavy or too sweet, but balanced. Finish is a little sweet as expected, but this makes it better. Ice and a swath of orange peel - perfect pre-dinner cocktail. Low in alcohol and just the right way to enjoy a meal.
If you are on the dry / low alcohol wagon, or even better you are on the I-like-to-drink-good-things-only wagon, then get a bottle of vermouth such the Gran Bassano from Poli and enjoy.
ABOUT THE Author
Brian Mitchell runs The New England Wine Academy, and is responsible for the content of this blog. With over 25 years of drinks industry experience, Brian has learned a few things, but everyday he is learning more. This blog helps to bring that knowledge to you.