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  • Writer's pictureBrian Tasch

Italian Dry Vermouth Tasting Guide

Updated: Jun 26, 2022

The Italians lay claim to what we know today as vermouth. The very first commercial vermouth, created by Antonio Benedetto Carpano in 1786, was a sweet vermouth.

Italian vermouth is traditionally characterized as sweet red vermouth, though the original vermouths were probably more golden as they were naturally colored by their botanicals. Today, the country produces dry, sweet white, and sweet red vermouth. Yet when historical documents refer to Italian vermouth, they're typically referring to what we know today as sweet red vermouth.

Most Italian producers tend to consider their sweet vermouths their flagship products. It's easy to dismiss the dry offerings as afterthoughts, but this is an unfair assumption as many houses are putting out some great products.

Standouts in this category include the especially bitter Bordiga Extra Dry and Mancino Seco, the perfectly balanced Cinzano 1757 Extra Dry, Martelletti Dry, and Antica Torino Dry, as well as the raspberry-forward Chambery style Boissiere Extra Dry.

Spatola Extra Dry is the only bottle I would avoid.

If you're new to the world of vermouth, check out my Introduction to Vermouth post to learn some basics, introduce yourself to some of the terminology used, and get a general overview of how these guides are structured (and why). Then join me back here to get into the details!

Antica Torino Dry

Origin: Italy

Producer: Antica Torino

ABV: 18%

Wine Base: Cortese

Known Botanicals: at least 6 including wormwood, muscat yarrow, sage, thistle, centaury, and hyssop

Sugar: 33 g/l

Nose: gentian, mint, cinnamon, licorice, oregano, marzipan

Palate: cinchona, lemon, nutmeg, cinnamon, white peach, marzipan

Finish: cinchona, clove, lemon, dried hay, mint, orange

Additional Notes: Green-tinted straw color. Medium body with bright, almost champagne acidity. Fortified with neutral wheat grain distillate. A vermouth lover's vermouth, this is one heckuva dry vermouth. A bit more oxidized grape than you typically get from Italian dry vermouth. Benefits from a little time to breathe once the bottle is opened.

Berto Extra Secco

Origin: Italy Producer: Berto, distributed by Kermit Lynch ABV: 19% Wine Base: Trebbiano/Ugni Blanc, Cortese, Chardonnay Known Botanicals: at least 8, wormwood, dittany, marjoram, ginger, lemon, cardamom, tarragon, lavender Sugar: 20 g/l Nose: oregano, lemon, tarragon, wormwood, orange, gorgonzola, green olive, gentian Palate: lemon, wormwood, marjoram, fennel, ginger, rosemary, tarragon Finish: lavender, marjoram, orange, lemon, green cardamom, rosemary, tarragon Additional Notes: Pale straw yellow appearance. Bitter and herbal with very light spice and a floral finish.

Boissiere Extra Dry

Origin: Italy (France from 1857 to 1971)

Producer: Boissiere, distributed by Palm Bay International

ABV: 18%

Wine Base: N/A

Known Botanicals: at least 8: wormwood, gentian, elderflower, bitter orange, iris, chamomile, gentian, coriander

Sugar: N/A

Nose: pineapple, lychee, rose

Palate: white raspberry, gentian, coriander, orange blossom, cumin

Finish: gentian, raspberry, orange blossom, dandelion

Additional Notes: Crystalline appearance. Bone-dry, bright, and acidic with a very thin body. A Chambery style vermouth originally produced in France from 1857 until 1971 when production moved to Turin, Italy. Because of this, I've opted to include Boissiere in both my French and Italian guides.

Bordiga Extra Dry

Origin: Italy

Producer: Bordiga, distributed by Oliver McCrum Wines

ABV: 18%

Wine Base: Cortese, Moscato

Known Botanicals: at least 30, including wormwood, gentian root, gentian flower, juniper, chamomile, nutmeg, coriander, fennel, vanilla, cardamom, sage, carnation berries, quassia, cinchona, marjoram, lime

Sugar: N/A

Nose: fennel, mango, papaya, ripe melon, prosciutto

Palate: orange, lemon oil, juniper, chamomile, cinnamon

Finish: gentian, chamomile, grapefruit, nutmeg

Additional Notes: Straw yellow appearance. A Vermouth di Torino with many botanicals hand-foraged in the Piedmontese Alps near the distillery. Dilution brings out the juniper and gentian notes.

Carpano Dry

Origin: Italy

Producer: Carpano

ABV: 18%

Wine Base: Moscato, Trebbiano/Ugni Blanc

Known Botanicals: at least 2: wormwood, dittany

Sugar: 30 g/l

Nose: peach, plum, lemon oil, oregano, pepper, dried leaves

Palate: cedar, fennel, cinnamon, anise, oregano

Finish: anise, fennel, hay, barnyard earthiness

Additional Notes: Silvery straw in appearance. A richer, more full-bodied vermouth than your average Italian offering; Carpano vermouths tend to be quite bold, and Carpano Dry is no exception. Heavy on the warming baking spices. Holds up nicely to dilution. The fennel and anise notes tend to punch through when mixed.

Cinzano Extra Dry

Origin: Italy

Producer: Cinzano, distributed by Campari Group

ABV: 18%

Wine Base: Trebbiano/Ugni Blanc

Known Botanicals: 14 total, including wormwood, chamomile, rose petal

Sugar: N/A

Nose: honey, pine, damp vegetation, moss, oregano

Palate: lemon peel, white peach, thyme

Finish: wormwood, green apple, tree bark, chamomile

Additional Notes: Very pale yellow, almost clear. The flavor of this one is a bit thin and is easily lost in dilution. I find it a bit more challenging to mix with as it is so bitter and tart, with savory notes that seem to clash with whatever it’s mixed with. Certainly not bad, but best enjoyed neat or on ice. Solid enough, but a bit boring.

Cinzano 1757 Extra Dry

Origin: Italy

Producer: Cinzano

ABV: 18%

Wine Base: N/A

Known Botanicals: wormwood

Sugar: N/A

Nose: wormwood, green apple, rhubarb, honeysuckle, lemon, clove, millet, orange, thyme, sage, chrysanthemum

Palate: wormwood, green apple, lemon, cinnamon, coriander, tree bark, marjoram, rosemary, hay

Finish: wormwood, cinnamon, clove, orange, green apple, marjoram, rosemary, mineralic, sea salt

Additional Notes: Vermouth di Torino. Very pale green tinted straw yellow appearance. Light bodied, slightly oily texture. Floral, stemmy, a bit fruity, spicy, salinic, and most importantly bitter, it's a wonderfully balanced bottle with the perfect amount of acidity. Leans heavily into green apple, wormwood, marjoram, and clove. This is a heck of an upgrade from Cinzano's more commonly found Extra Dry which I find serviceable and little more. A top-notch dry vermouth and one of the best Italian dry vermouths on the market period. Well worth hunting down.

Florentino Extra Dry

Origin: Italy

ABV: 18%

Wine Base: N/A

Known Botanicals: wormwood

Sugar: N/A

Nose: coriander, cumin, lemon, orange, vanilla, fennel, cinnamon, cinchona

Palate: cinchona, lemon, orange, gentian, coriander, white pepper, tarragon, cinnamon

Finish: lemon, faint wormwood, thyme, white tea, licorice, cinchona, cinnamon

Additional Notes: Faint straw yellow color. Very little sugar, but an oily body to compensate. Herbaceous backbone typical of Italian dry vermouth, but notably brighter and sharper with a nice cinchona bite.

Foro Dry

Origin: Italy

Producer: Foro

ABV: 17.5%

Wine Base: Trebbiano/Ugni Blanc

Known Botanicals: at least 19, Roman wormwood, lemon peel, rose hip flower, thyme, aloe vera, gentian, St. John’s Wort, juniper, marjoram, coriander, ginger, clove, chamomile, cinchona bark, cardamom, angelica, vanilla, angostura bark, elderberry

Sugar: N/A

Nose: butterscotch, vanilla, lemon, toffee, wormwood, juniper, thyme

Palate: vanilla, orange, lemon, cinnamon, toffee, oregano, cinchona, guava, green apple

Finish: orange, vanilla, wormwood, cinchona, lemon, cacao, tarragon, green apple

Additional Notes: Pale straw yellow appearance. Vermouth di Torino. Claims to be the first vermouth produced using 100% organically grown grapes. Needs time to open up, allowing the brighter herbaceous notes to poke through lots of creamy baking spice. Bitter, acidic, confectionary, and herbaceous with some underlying caramel apple throughout.

Gancia Extra Dry

Origin: Italy

Producer: Gancia

ABV: 18%

Wine Base: N/A

Known Botanicals: at least 9, including wormwood, bitter orange, sweet orange, cinnamon, sandalwood, clove, nutmeg, cinchona

Sugar: N/A

Nose: lemon oil, bark, pear, honeysuckle

Palate: sage, oregano, plum, briny, apricot

Finish: wormwood, apricot, lemon oil, olive brine, nutmeg

Additional Notes: Light straw color. Reminds me of Cinzano, but less astringent.

Mancino Secco

Origin: Italy

Producer: Mancino

ABV: 18%

Wine Base: Trebbiano

Known Botanicals: 19 total, including wormwood, sage, marjoram, oregano, lemongrass, dog rose, pimento, nutmeg, orris root, cardamom

Sugar: 18 g/l

Nose: sage, marjoram, oregano, lemongrass, chamomile, wormwood, honeysuckle, orange blossom

Palate: grapefruit, wormwood, nutmeg, lemon, cranberry, cinchona, cinnamon, honey, nutmeg

Finish: grapefruit, mint, wormwood, chamomile, cranberry, allspice, lemon

Additional Notes: Pale yellow with a hint of green. Very light body. Juicy and bitter, this vermouth finishes acidic and bone dry. Doesn't linger on the palate. Bitter through and through.

Martelletti Dry

Origin: Italy

ABV: 18%

Wine Base: Trebbiano

Known Botanicals: at least 20, wormwood, cinnamon, myrrh, gentian, cinchona

Sugar: N/A

Nose: cinnamon, green peppercorn, raisin, sage, lemon, cinchona, orange, oregano, vanilla, banana

Palate: cinchona, clove, grapefruit, wormwood, juniper, sage, almond, orange, pineapple

Finish: wormwood, cinchona, lemon, cinnamon, nutmeg, juniper, rosemary, coriander, mint

Additional Notes: Vermouth di Torino. Green-tinted straw yellow color. Round, oily mouthfeel. Bitter and stemmy with a drying finish.

Martini & Rossi Extra Dry

Origin: Italy

Producer: Martini & Rossi, distributed by Bacardi Limited

ABV: 15%

Wine Base: Trebbiano/Ugni Blanc, Catarratto

Known Botanicals: at least 30 total, including two different artemesia roots, orris root, sage, coriander, allspice, chamomile, raspberry, Spanish lemon peel, Tunisian bitter orange peel, dittany, red provins rose flowers, sweet violet flowers, cascarilla bark, quassia bark, gentian root, clove, ceylon cinnamon bark

Sugar: 30 g/l

Nose: raspberry, peach, papaya, pear, lychee, honeysuckle, coriander, thyme, grass

Palate: raspberry, lemon zest, green apple, cantaloupe, peach, gentian, cinnamon

Finish: raspberry, green apple, dill, lemon, oregano, cinnamon, vanilla, peach

Additional Notes: Pale straw with a grassy. A fine workhorse vermouth. I find that it shines on its own and is fickle when mixed, often highlighting its bitter, astringent notes.

Montanaro Extra Dry

Origin: Italy

Producer: Montanaro, distributed by Domaine Select Wine & Spirits

ABV: 18%

Wine Base: at least 5% Marsala

Known Botanicals: wormwood

Sugar: 25 g/l

Nose: lemon, gentian, cinchona, chamomile, white grape, cinnamon, pear

Palate: green grape, wormwood, lemon, pear, cinnamon, juniper

Finish: wormwood, lemon, gentian, tart green apple

Additional Notes: Light straw color. Vermouth di Torino designation. The low sugar content keeps it from lingering on the palate, and the bitterness further dries it out.

Spatola Extra Dry

Origin: Italy

Producer: N/A

ABV: 18%

Wine Base: N/A

Known Botanicals: N/A

Sugar Content: N/A

Nose: sulfur, hot dog water, cooked beans

Palate: white grape, ripe stone fruit, lemon, orange, prosciutto, oregano

Finish: lemon, barnyard, grapefruit, grape juice

Additional Notes: Straw yellow color. The off-putting nose immediately gave me flashbacks to Tribuno dry vermouth. Fortunately, Spatola is better than Tribuno, though not by much. The nose is unctuous, the palate strangely sweet and fruity, and the finish a muddy cross between the two. Generally unpleasant.

Will accept donations of any missing vermouths.

Vermouth Guides

Check the individual regional Vermouth guides for more detailed information on regional styles and recommended bottles:

Dry Vermouth

Sweet White Vermouth

Sweet Red Vermouth

Quinquina and Americano

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