It’s hard to imagine the world without Martinis. Yet, at one time, finding dry vermouth in the United States was difficult, and when a recipe called for vermouth, every bartender would assume the sweet and dark style. It is in no small part that the company of Martini & Rossi has been at the forefront of popularizing vermouth as a cocktail ingredient for 150 years, and are one of the most recognized brands worldwide. How did they come to epitomize the timeless classiness of aromatized wine?
It all began in Turin, Italy in 1863. Founded by Alessandro Martini who understood the properties of herbs, and Luigi Rossi a well-known wine merchant, they had immediate success with their vermouth. Over the ensuing decade, the company utilized up and coming artists to create their iconic poster art, including works by Marcello Dudovich and Andy Warhol. The company truly understood the idea of brand recognition, and it has served them well. Order a Martini in Europe, and you will not get a cocktail mixed with gin, dry vermouth and orange bitters, but rather a glass of vermouth on the rocks. The waiter will only ask if you prefer blanc or rouge.
Today, the company has a large array of products ranging from sparkling wines to dessert wines, but at the heart of it all are the two vermouths. So, in honor of the 150th anniversary of the great Martini & Rossi, I present my review of the following products from their portfolio:
Rosso (15% alc.) – Quite sweet with a burnt caramel overtone. Spices and herbs are subtle, but support the overall body. A good, solid sweet vermouth, but lacks subtlety. GSN Rating: B+
Extra Dry (15% alc.) – Light and slightly fruity with a dry character. The herbs work well here to counterbalance any inherent sweetness in the wine. GSN Rating: A-
Asti (7.5% alc.) – A sweet and slightly musky sparkling wine with a load of sugar content. Quite carbonated and bubbly. Quite fruity. GSN Rating: B
Moscato d’Asti (5% alc.) – A floral bouquet, with an intensely fruity flavor. Very sweet and dessert-like. The grape flavor is smooth and juicy with a lot of sugar retention. Definitely an after dinner dessert wine. GSN Rating: B
Rose (9.5% alc.) – Quite sweet, but with a lot of tight carbonation which tempers the fruitiness. The grape flavor is quite prevalent and leaning towards Demi-sec in terms of sugar. Good balanced flavor overall with no bitterness. GSN Rating: A-
Prosecco (10.5% alc.) – Lightly carbonated with a sweet and slightly bitter character. There is a chalkiness in the mouthfeel which adds body to the overall effect. Flavorful and with a somewhat apple-like character. Perfect for brunch! GSN Rating: A-
For more information go to: Martini