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  • Brian Tasch

Italian Sweet Red Vermouth Tasting Guide

Updated: Jan 1, 2022

This is where it all began, the real meat of this entire project. With Antonio Benedetto Carpano's first vermouth, the Italians laid their claim to one of the finest forms of aromatized wine.


When a cocktail recipe calls for sweet vermouth, we're likely reaching for something Italian, and for good reason. Most known for sweet red vermouth, Italy produces some of the best vermouths on the market. Typically the sweetest of all vermouths, Italian sweet red vermouth is marked by the most apparent bitter and herbaceous notes.


It's worth noting the original sweet vermouths weren't defined by their dark red/brown coloring, but were naturally colored by their botanicals.


Standout bottles that represent the category include the bitter (yet perfectly balanced) Alessio Rosso, Cinzano 1757 Rosso, Contratto Rosso, and Scarpa Rosso. For an extra bitter cola flavor, try Punt e Mes. The herbaceous Martini and Rossi Riserva Speciale Rubino is the finest of the savory, herbal Italian sweet reds.


For something sweeter and more dessert-like, try the much-loved vanilla bomb Carpano Antica Formula, the chocolatey Cocchi di Torino, and Martelletti Classico for its cream sherry notes.


For something lighter, don't turn your nose up at the incredible value of the cola bomb that is Cinzano Rosso. Boissiere Sweet Vermouth also provides a more delicate, Chambery-style alternative to the typical heaviness found in the Italian sweet red category. And please, do yourself a favor and give Mancino Rosso Amaranto a shot; there's nothing else quite like it.


Parini Rosso is the only bottle I would avoid on this entire list.


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!


Alessio Rosso

Origin: Italy

Producer: Tempus Fugit

ABV: 17%

Wine Base: Moscato D'Asti, Trebbiano/Ugni Blanc

Known Botanicals: at least 27, including both grande and petite wormwood, and cardamom

Sugar: N/A

Nose: fig, cinnamon, menthol, berry jam, oregano, mint, wormwood, licorice root

Palate: wormwood, licorice, plum, apricot, peach, cherry, lemon oil, clove, nutmeg

Finish: wormwood, blackberry, raspberry, charcoal, nutmeg, sarsaparilla, espresso, dark chocolate

Additional Notes: Nut brown color. Nice oily texture. A fair amount of sugar – sticky but not overly sweet due to an almost amaro-like bitterness.


Antica Torino Rosso

Origin: Italy

Producer: Antica Torino

ABV: 18%

Wine Base: Bombino, Trebbiano/Ugni Blanc, Freisa, Moscato D'Asti

Known Botanicals: 13 total, including gentian, wormwood, rosemary, bay laurel, red thyme, oregano, rhubarb, vanilla bean, ginger, and grapefruit peel

Sugar: 180 g/l

Nose: rhubarb, marzipan, gentian, vanilla, peanut, pine, mint, wormwood, clove, licorice

Palate: vanilla, wormwood, gentian, lemon, rhubarb, cinnamon, white pepper, cinchona, orange

Finish: vanilla, wormwood, gentian, peanut, orange, nutmeg, rhubarb, cinnamon

Additional Notes: Amber color. Nutty, dusty, and root-like.


Berto Ross da Travaj

Origin: Italy

Producer: Carlo Quaglia, distributed by Kermit Lynch

ABV: 17%

Wine Base: Arneis, Cortese, Trebbiano/Ugni Blanc, Barbera d’Asti

Known Botanicals: at least 16: wormwood, bitter orange, gentian, cardamom, vanilla, coriander, mint, mace, hops, thyme, marjoram, lemon, cinnamon, clove, rhubarb, angelica

Sugar: 200 g/l

Nose: marzipan, gentian, anise, wormwood, cinnamon, rhubarb, toasted oat

Palate: cinnamon, vanilla, wormwood, tobacco, orange, lemon, caramel, black cardamom, black cherry

Finish: wormwood, tobacco, lemon, cinnamon, ash, rhubarb, black cherry, thyme

Additional Notes: Light brown/amber. Medium body with a pleasant lingering bitterness. Doesn't sit as heavy on the palate as some other Italian sweet vermouths with comparable amounts of sugar.


Boissiere Sweet Vermouth

Origin: Italy (Formerly France)

Producer: Boissiere, distributed by Palm Bay International

ABV: 18%

Wine Base: N/A

Known Botanicals: at least 7, including wormwood, marjoram, chamomile, clove, coriander, and elderflower

Sugar: N/A

Nose: raisin, cinnamon, orange, lavender, strawberry, rose, chamomile, lemon, gentian, marjoram

Palate: wormwood, blackberry, dark cherry, clove, cinchona, lemon, orange

Finish: blackberry, grapefruit, clove, nutmeg, eucalyptus, wormwood, raisin

Additional Notes: Deep red color. Originally distilled in the Chambery region since 1857 – production moved to Italy in 1971. Quinine heavy-bitterness.


Bordiga Excelsior Riserva Superiore

Origin: Italy

Producer: Bordiga, distributed by Oliver McCrum Wines

ABV: 18%

Wine Base: Nebbiolo

Known Botanicals: wormwood

Sugar: N/A

Nose: gentian, marzipan, raspberry, orange, anise, tarragon, raisin, cinnamon

Palate: mint, apple, cinnamon, orange, juniper, fennel, lavender, green cardamom

Finish: juniper, orange, gentian, lemon, fennel, cinnamon, green cardamom, cola, apple

Additional Notes: Deep ruby red. Barrel aged for three years. Medium body. One of those exceptionally rare vermouths made from a red wine base. Bordiga's signature juniper note brightens an already tannic palate.


Bordiga Rosso

Origin: Italy

Producer: Bordiga, distributed by Oliver McCrum Wines

ABV: 18%

Wine Base: Moscato, Nebbiolo

Known Botanicals: at least 30, including wormwood, coriander, lime, fennel seed, juniper, cinchona, marjoram, salvia, cardamom, vanilla, nutmeg, gentian root, gentian flowers, tonka beans, anise, mint, sweet orange, grapefruit, and lemon

Sugar: 170 g/l

Nose: gentian, marzipan, raspberry, orange, anise, tarragon, raisin, cinnamon

Palate: mint, apple, cinnamon, orange, juniper, fennel, lavender, green cardamom

Finish: juniper, orange, gentian, lemon, fennel, cinnamon, green cardamom, cola, apple

Additional Notes: Light amber color. Medicinal, herbal, and slightly confectionary with lots of bitter orange. Dilution brings out heavy apple and cinnamon notes.


Carpano Antica Formula

Origin: Italy

Producer: Carpano

ABV: 16.5%

Wine Base: N/A

Known Botanicals: at least 3: wormwood, saffron, vanilla

Sugar: 194 g/l

Nose: vanilla, raisin, clove, spicy citrus, licorice, root beer, honey, star anise, birch

Palate: wormwood, vanilla, cocoa, bitter orange, coffee, cinnamon, clove, almond

Finish: bitter orange, cocoa, sage, thyme, vanilla

Additional Notes: Light brown/amber. A rich, full-bodied vanilla-heavy offering and one of the few vermouths on the market designated "vermouth alla vaniglia". The original recipe was made using Moscato wine as the base. Still, the language used by Carpano implies an emulation on the original recipe than a strict 1:1 recreation, so I can't confirm this to be the case still. Fantastic on its own, but a bully in cocktails as it tends to overpower and impart its characteristic vanilla profile to everything it touches.


Cinzano Rosso

Origin: Italy

Producer: Cinzano, distributed by Campari Group

ABV: 15%

Wine Base: N/A

Known Botanicals: 35 total, including wormwood, marjoram, thyme, musk yarrow, nutmeg, coriander, juniper, orange peel, and clove

Sugar: 140 g/l

Nose: cinnamon, vanilla, menthol, eucalyptus, black cherry, cola, clove, orange, gentian, oregano

Palate: cola, cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, plum, raspberry jam, nutmeg, wormwood, currant

Finish: wormwood, black cherry, cola, nutmeg, gentian, lemon oil, orange oil

Additional Notes: Mahogany appearance. A cola bomb with lingering wormwood. Dilution brings out the baking spice and tempers the bitter notes.


Cinzano 1757 Rosso

Origin: Italy

Producer: Cinzano, distributed by Campari Group

ABV: 16%

Wine Base: N/A

Known Botanicals: wormwood

Sugar: N/A

Nose: sage, honey, oregano, vanilla, cinnamon, licorice, eucalyptus, clove, thyme, coriander, wormwood, juniper

Palate: wormwood, vanilla, gentian, cinnamon, cola, licorice, black cherry, menthol, dark chocolate, tobacco

Finish: wormwood, vanilla, cinnamon, cola, nutmeg, gentian, menthol, grapefruit peel, over-steeped black tea

Additional Notes: Deep reddish-brown. Wildly different from the standard Cinzano Rosso. Bitter and more herbaceous all the way around, though the cola finish is reminiscent of Cinzano Rosso. Dilution brings the confectionary notes out.


Cocchi Dopo Teatro

Origin: Italy

Producer: Cocchi

ABV: 16%

Wine Base: Moscato D'Asti, Barolo Chinato

Known Botanicals: at least 5, wormwood, rhubarb, chiretta flower, cinchona, quassia

Sugar: 220 g/l

Nose: marzipan, cherry, fig, sandalwood, raisin, strawberry, sage, black pepper, coffee

Palate: cherry, wormwood, gentian, fig, coffee, cacao, raisin, sage, black pepper, stewed berries

Finish: gentian, wormwood, cacao, black cherry, lemon, mint, orange, white pepper, marzipan, cinchona

Additional Notes: Rich amber color. Vermouth di Torino. Velvety mouthfeel and texture. A vermouth amaro, most similar to Punt e Mes in terms of outright bitterness. The addition of Barolo Chinato brings balance a distinct winey-ness to the palate which is often lost in the heavy botanicals and sugar of Italian sweet red vermouth.

Cocchi Vermouth di Torino

Origin: Italy

Producer: Cocchi

ABV: 16%

Wine Base: Moscato D'Asti

Known Botanicals: at least 15: wormwood, cinchona bark, rhubarb, orange peel, gentian, star anise, yarrow, rose petal, juniper, quassia, nutmeg, coriander, sandalwood, musk, myrrh

Sugar: 200 g/l

Nose: vanilla, cinnamon, banana, birch, oregano, strawberry, cocoa, lemon, gentian

Palate: chocolate, fennel, vanilla, wormwood, cinnamon, banana, clove, strawberry, gentian, rootbeer, cream

Finish: vanilla, clove, cinnamon, tobacco, cherry, wormwood, juniper, lemon

Additional Notes: Light auburn color. Vermouth di Torino (duh). One of the best and most versatile vermouths ever produced. The constantly moving palate is rooted in cacao notes.


Contratto Rosso

Origin: Italy

Producer: Contratto

ABV: 17%

Wine Base: Cortese

Known Botanicals: 31 total, including wormwood, coriander seeds, bay laurel, yellow sweet clover, cinnamon, angelica root, nutmeg, bitter orange peel, carob tree pods, pimento seeds, rhubarb root, sage, cinchona bark, lemon peel, sweet orange peel, licorice root, and sandalwood

Sugar: 180 g/l

Nose: gentian, black cherry, cola, nutmeg, bark, coriander, oregano, cinnamon

Palate: white pepper, spearmint, carob, gentian, lemon, ruby grapefruit, lingonberry, eucalyptus

Finish: white pepper, gentian, grapefruit, orange, wormwood, blackberry

Additional Notes: Red-brown appearance. Pleasant body. Bitter and herbal. A perfectly balanced, distinctly Italian expression.


Del Professore Rosso

Origin: Italy

Producer: Del Professore

ABV: 18%

Wine Base: Muscato

Known Botanicals: 13 total, including wormwood

Sugar: N/A

Nose: marzipan, gentian, lemon, vanilla, thyme, honey, wormwood, peanut

Palate: honey, lemon, cinnamon, vanilla, wormwood, bark, fig, orange, black tea, cherry

Finish: honey, wormwood, nutmeg, cinnamon, orange, black pepper, vanilla, peach, black tea

Additional Notes: Brown/red color. Heavy and sweet – very herbal and medicinal.


Florentino Rosso

Origin: Italy

Producer: Giacome Sperone I.VI.S. Spa

ABV: 18%

Wine Base: N/A

Known Botanicals: wormwood

Sugar: N/A

Nose: cumin, cinnamon, vanilla, licorice, orange, rhubarb, gentian, cherry, almond

Palate: orange, cinchona, wormwood, cinnamon, vanilla, marjoram, cherry, gentian

Finish: clove, cacao, wormwood, vanilla, cinchona, orange, cinnamon

Additional Notes: Light red-brown color. Wonderfully bitter and confectionary. Medium body. Dilution brings more acidity, cutting the baking spices and bolstering the bitterness. Prominent cinchona.


Foro Rosso

Origin: Italy

Producer: Foro

ABV: 16.5%

Wine Base: Moscato, Inzolia

Known Botanicals: at least 11, Roman wormwood, orange peel, saffron, aloe vera, cinnamon, balsam, myrrh, cornflower, mace, rhubarb, sandalwood

Sugar: N/A

Nose: bubblegum, strawberry, banana, vanilla, ginger, allspice, mint, clove, cinchona, licorice

Palate: orange, wormwood, cinchona, clove, strawberry, banana, allspice, cinnamon

Finish: cinchona, cacao, lemon, clove, orange, mint, gentian, cedar, thyme

Additional Notes: Garnet color with amber highlights. Vermouth di Torino. Dilution turns it into a bittered Coca Cola. Lots of cinnamon, clove, and vanilla with a strawberry/banana bubblegum note from nose to finish.


Fred Jerbis Vermut

Origin: Italy

Producer: Fred Jerbis

ABV: 18%

Wine Base: Verduzzo del Collio

Known Botanicals: 25 total, three different varieties of wormwood, two different varieties of orange, angelica, gentian, cinchona bark

Sugar: N/A

Nose: cinchona, marzipan, green apple, gentian, licorice, bar leaf, orange, raisin, cinnamon, clove, gingerbread, vanilla, mint

Palate: black cherry, gentian, cinchona, angelica, cinnamon, vanilla, pear, green cardamom

Finish: gentian, lemon, raisin, cedar, star anise, pear, black pepper, green cardamom, wormwood, juniper

Additional Notes: Red tinted cola brown, Minimal sediment in the bottle as a result of high quality macerations and minimal processing.


Hotel Starlino Rosso

Origin: Italy

Producer: Torino Distillati

ABV: 17%

Wine Base: Trebbiano/Ugni Blanc, Marsala

Known Botanicals: at least 13, 3 different kinds of wormwood (gentle, Roman, artemesia absinthium), cinchona, orange, vanilla, bitter orange, clove, raisin, rhubarb, tolu balsam, ginger, grape skin

Sugar Content: N/A

Nose: cinchona, orange, clove, cinnamon, raisin, fig, wormwood, menthol

Palate: cinnamon, vanilla, raisin, orange, apricot, rhubarb, oregano, black cherry

Finish: vanilla, cinnamon, clove, wormwood, tobacco, licorice, oregano, black cherry

Additional Notes: Huge cinnamon and clove with lots of stewed and oxidized red fruit. Rested in ex-Kentucky Bourbon barrels for 30 days. Leaves behind plenty of mulling spices and woody, stemmy flavors. Lots of cherry cola vibes throughout.


Mancino Rosso Amaranto

Origin: Italy

Producer: Mancino

ABV: 16%

Wine Base: Trebbiano/Ugni Blanc

Known Botanicals: 38 total, including wormwood, chiretta, vanilla, rhubarb root, orange zest, juniper, cinnamon, clove, myrrh, and vanilla

Sugar: 135 g/l

Nose: cinnamon, clove, cedar, lemon, gentian, charcoal, orange, tobacco, juniper

Palate: raspberry, blackberry, cherry, juniper, lemon, cinnamon, cinchona, wormwood, clove, sage, rhubarb

Finish: cinnamon, vanilla, wormwood, clove, sage, orange, cherry

Additional Notes: Red-tinted brown. No caramel used for coloring. I've never tasted a vermouth with so much bright, fresh fruit on the palate. Incredibly fruity and light-bodied. Dry for a sweet vermouth with a drying bitterness.


Martini and Rossi Fiero

Origin: Italy

Producer: Martini & Rossi, distributed by Bacardi Limited

ABV: 14.9%

Wine Base: N/A

Known Botanicals: at least 4, including wormwood, orange, and blood orange

Sugar: 180 g/l

Nose: candied orange, artificial orange, grass, cinnamon, peach, cherry, strawberry, rhubarb

Palate: orange, cinnamon, rhubarb, lemon peel

Finish: gentian, orange peel, grapefruit, cinnamon, rhubarb

Additional Notes: Ruby red. Medium-light body. Cloyingly sweet. A blood orange vermouth as sweet and straight-forward as the fruit itself.


Martini and Rossi Rosso

Origin: Italy

Producer: Martini & Rossi, distributed by Bacardi Limited

ABV: 15%

Wine Base: Trebbiano/Ugni Blanc, Catarratto

Known Botanicals: at least 30, including two different varieties of wormwood, dittany, rose, violet, chamomile, Spanish lemon peel, bitter orange peel, raspberry, cascarilla bark, quassia, oris root oil, and gentian root

Sugar: 155 g/l

Nose: tobacco, bay leaf, ginger, prune, pine, cedar, coriander, black pepper, cumin, forest floor

Palate: licorice, cherry, tobacco, cinnamon, wormwood, oregano, bay leaf

Finish: cola, vanilla, wormwood, cinnamon, bay leaf

Additional Notes: Reddish-brown color. Very few bright notes on the palate. Heavy and herbal, woodsy, and savory.


Martini and Rossi Riserva Speciale Rubino

Origin: Italy

Producer: Martini & Rossi, distributed by Bacardi Limited

ABV: 18%

Wine Base: Langhe Nebbiolo

Known Botanicals: at least 5: three varieties of wormwood, holy thistle, red sandalwood

Sugar: 169 g/l

Nose: black cherry, oregano, sage, licorice, black pepper, strawberry, raspberry, gentian

Palate: raspberry, wormwood, bark, lemon, cherry, pomegranate, cassis, blackberry

Finish: bark, wormwood, nutmeg, pomegranate, blood orange, gentian, black pepper

Additional Notes: Ruby red color (hence “Rubino”). Full-bodied and rich. The nose is distinctively Martini & Rossi. Very little baking spice.


Martelletti Classico

Origin: Italy

Producer: Martelletti

ABV: 16%

Wine Base: Moscato

Known Botanicals: at least 20, including wormwood, Romanian absinthe, yellow saffron, turmeric, aloe, myrrh, vanilla, bitter orange, cinnamon, and Chinese rhubarb

Sugar: N/A

Nose: mint, menthol, anise, fennel, cinchona, lemon, fig, cinnamon, rhubarb

Palate: orange, cinnamon, wormwood, raisin, date, gingerbread, charred oak, cola, caraway, honey, chocolate

Finish: vanilla, orange, raisin, fennel, rhubarb

Additional Notes: Golden-amber color. Vermouth di Torino. Notes of cream sherry on the palate.


Montanaro Rosso

Origin: Italy

Producer: Montanaro, distributed by Domaine Select

ABV: 16%

Wine Base: Marsala (21%)

Known Botanicals: at least 20, including wormwood

Sugar: 180 g/l

Nose: plum, gentian, marzipan, cinnamon, cinchona, oregano, black pepper

Palate: black cherry, plum, cinnamon, gentian, vanilla, orange, clove, mint

Finish: apricot, gentian, wormwood, vanilla, cinnamon

Additional Notes: Cola brown color. Vermouth di Torino. Well-balanced between stewed fruit, confectionary notes, and bitterness.


Parini Rosso

Origin: Italy

Producer: Parini

ABV: 15%

Wine Base: N/A

Known Botanicals: wormwood

Sugar: N/A

Nose: rose, coriander, moss, cumin, cinnamon, oregano, peach

Palate: cherry, lemon, vanilla, grapefruit, peach, cinnamon, bark, black tea

Finish: vanilla, apricot, cherry, sourdough bread, wormwood, lake water

Additional Notes: Amber color. Muddy, wholly uninteresting palate. Sweet with minimal movement. Off-putting, musty finish.


Punt e Mes

Origin: Italy

Producer: Carpano

ABV: 16%

Wine Base: Muscat

Known Botanicals: at least 40, including wormwood, cinchona bark, and orange peel

Sugar: N/A

Nose: licorice, fennel, cinchona, cherry, cinnamon, clove, orange, gentian, straw, chamomile

Palate: wormwood, lemon, grapefruit, gentian, cola, cinnamon, clove, mint, blackberry, vanilla

Finish: wormwood, gentian, cherry, lemon, cinnamon, lavender, mint, orange blossom, rose, vanilla

Additional Notes: Reddish-brown color. A vermouth with a pronounced bitter note. Backstory and history play a big part in the Punt e Mes lore. Still, this is essentially a product designed to be one part Italian sweet vermouth and a half part Italian Amaro, hence the translation of Punt e Mes to “Point and a half.


Scarpa Rosso

Origin: Italy

Producer: Scarpa

ABV: 18%

Wine Base: MoscatoKnown Botanicals: wormwood

Sugar: 155 g/l

Nose: mint, oregano, nutmeg, lemon, cinnamon, gentian, licorice, clove, cinchona

Palate: wormwood, orange, cola, vanilla, lemon, nutmeg, ginger, cinchona, dark chocolate

Finish: vanilla, cinnamon, plum, cherry, clove, ginger, grapefruit, wormwood, dark chocolate

Additional Notes: Cola brown appearance. Mixes particularly well in cocktails, especially those with a barrel-aged spirit base.


Notably missing: Carpano Classico Rosso, Contratto Americano Rosso, Del Professore Vermouth alla Vaniglia, Fred Jerbis Vermut, Gancia Rosso, and Spatola Sweet Vermouth. 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


French Dry Vermouth

Italian Dry Vermouth

Spanish Dry Vermouth

American Dry Vermouth

The Complete Guide to Dry Vermouth


Sweet White Vermouth


French Sweet White Vermouth

Italian Sweet White Vermouth

Spanish Sweet White Vermouth

American Sweet White Vermouth

The Complete Guide to Sweet White Vermouth


Sweet Red Vermouth


Italian Sweet Red Vermouth

French Sweet Red Vermouth

Spanish Sweet Red Vermouth

American Sweet Red Vermouth

The Complete Guide to Sweet Red Vermouth


Quinquina and Americano


The Complete Guide to Quinquina and Americano


Please send updates and corrections to brian@corpserevived.com.

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