Vermouth is a fortified and aromatised wine that was originally developed for medicinal purposes. It can contain dozens of spices. The exact recipe is often a secret.
Vermouth is typically flavoured with wormwood extracts. The colour ranges from light to red and the sweetness from dry to sweet. You can discern herbal, citrus, lightly bitter, spicy and frugal notes in vermouths. The spices in light, sweet vermouths are often softer and less bitter than in red, sweet vermouths.
Vermouth is used as an aperitif, for socialising and in mixed drinks.
Light, dry and dryish vermouths are great aperitifs and can also be served on their own. They are also used as ingredients in many classic cocktails, such as Dry Martini. Many famous cocktails also include sweet vermouths: you cannot make a Negroni or Americano without red vermouth.
Used as an aperitif, vermouth should be served chilled, at 10–12°C, or on the rocks. For socialising, serve slightly chilled, at 14–16°C.
Light, dry and dryish vermouths add elegant herbal and spicy flavours to vegetable, fish and chicken dishes or sauces.