I think I’ll always remember the first time I indulged the nectar of the grape skin. It was a hot July day and the sun shone brightly overhead. I stood gathered with a few friends around a large barrel upon which six green bottles were presented before us by our host and sommelier. Each one of these green bottles was filled with vermouth.
Bright blue skies began to descend into an evening glow. Rows of vineyards filled the horizon. We all stood a bit warm and flushed from the series of pinots, rieslings and rosés we had just sampled. Murmurs and concerns of the onerous Sunday return to the city echoed about as the night drew near.
Vermouth is a spirit, it’s what happens to the grape skins once they’ve been shed for wine making. Waste not, refrigerate not and that is the birth of vermouth. They get their flavor, scent and all around character from what’s in the ground, the air, the region, and in season.
Despite the “secret” recipes, one can induce the moment each of these vermouths were produced by their photograph on the label and imagine what he or she might with every swig.
At Channing Daughters Winery in Bridgehampton, New York, they have produced this incredible collection of vermouths, each bottle uniquely reflecting changing of the seasons from spring through autumn.
The vermouth was poured into small port glasses which we sniffed, sipped and passed to each other, beginning with springtime. Not even a candle could hold a candle to the fresh scents of fennel, and from the vermouth bottled in the summer seasons — of melons and arugula. The final bottle was prepared in the fall. Unlike the others which ranged from pale and dark golds, this was red in color. Its smooth, yet spicy character delivered me to a cold evening by a fire. Each and every vermouth shared its own bottled up piece of a season in scent and taste — each one unique and phenomenal.
Liberate vermouth from martinis and negronis, and let it stand alone.