The flavoured wines are made from neutral base wines with an alcohol content of about 10%, where various quantities of ethyl alcohol or brandy, sugar, extracts or infusions of herbs and spices are added.
The main characteristic of the flavoured wines is the addition of spices and herbs. These specialities are often in great demand, they are produced in small quantities and predominantly in the mountains, where experts even study various herbal variations.
In ancient times they were regarded as cures, and the producers were botanical experts who used herbs as cures for diseases. The most famous flavoured wines in Italy are Vermouth and Barolo Chinato.
The alcohol in the flavoured wines is needed to increase the structure of the wine and its alcohol content, which should reach the minimum of 16 percent. The sugar, on the other hand, guarantees a sweet note, but the main source of energy are the herbs and spices that give it a bitter aftertaste. The sugar carries and increases the consistency of the wine and softness, also improves the accompanying aromas of herbs and spices in the wine.
The producers of flavoured wines keep their recipes secret and never reveal the procedure and the amount of ingredients. The wine is then subjected to various processes that stabilize, clarify, filter and cool it until it is finally clear and bright. After a rest period of about 6 to 12 months, the flavoured wine is bottled and marketed.
Vermouth was first produced in Italy in 1786 by the Piedmontese company Carpano. The owner, Antonio Carpano, decided to use the German word “Wermut”, because Vermouth was the most important ingredient. According to Law 108 of 16 March 1958, vermouth must be the most important ingredient for this wine, but camomile, balm, sage, thyme, elderberry, fennel, orange and star anise are also added. In view of the success of wormwood, other Piedmontese producers also began to produce this drink, such as Gancia, who invented the first white Vermouth in 1913. Previously there was only red wormwood and the company Martini & Rossi became known worldwide through “Martini” (Vermouth).
Another Piedmontese tradition is Barolo Chinato, a flavoured wine that uses Barolo as its base wine. Barolo has DOCG status and alcohol, sugar, various herbs and cinchona bark are added. The Barolo Chinato, according to D.P.R. of 01.07.1980 is certified for flavoured wines, with the base wine Barolo DOCG, without addition of grape must or wines which do not have this entitlement. The bouquet of Barolo Chinato is spicy, intense and persistent and is ideal with dark chocolate, desserts or chocolate cakes and dried fruits. This wine is a delicious aperitif and after a meal it becomes a delicate digestif. It is also a tonic and on cold winter days it can be slightly warmed, plus a piece of orange peel. The Barolo Chinato is also a proven meditation wine. For Christmas, it’s the perfect gift. This wine is very persistent and when properly stored horizontally, the aromas increase.