The UKBG and Mediterranean Aperitivo Project Introduce London to European Quality Vermouth
To Mediterranean Europeans, food and drink are a way of life. Days are punctuated by rituals that include ingredients that are both nutritious and excellent quality because of the heritage and care put into production and preparation.
The Mediterranean Aperitivo Project (MAP) project is a collective of Mediterranean European food and drink producers who want to help people discover how to enjoy a Mediterranean lifestyle, and they are using the classic Aperitivo to do it.
An aperitivo is a pre-meal drink which sometimes includes a light snack. It’s designed to whet your appetite and keep you going until that habitually later supper. The UKBG is incredibly proud to team up with the MAP project and introduce London bartenders to a vast array of informed and knowledgeable food and drink producers.
First and foremost, we will host a masterclass concentrating on cocktails and tasty pairings using Vermouth di Torino, Pecorino Toscano cheese, Costa d’Amalfi Lemons, and Olives from Greece.
The event will start at 10 am and take place at Tavolino, London, on November 14th. As well as the in-person tasting, the President of Consorzio del Vermouth di Torino will conduct a masterclass that will be live-streamed from Piedmont, Italy, during this event.
The main focus will be on Vermouth di Torino, ad you’ll be able to taste different styles and brands of Vermouth di Torino to understand the differences in taste, production and style. Your hosts will also serve ‘European quality’ food and drink to give a genuine understanding of the experience of Mediterranean aperitivo culture.
What Does ‘European Quality’ Mean?
In November 2012, the European Union launched a set of rules and created three labels to protect particular food and drinks. These legal labels include;
PDO – Protected Designation of Origin
PGI – Protected Geographical Indication
GI — Geographical Indication (specifically spirits and aromatised wines)
They were introduced to both promote the specific characteristics of heritage food and drinks, and to safeguard traditional production methods that contribute to a global standard for sustainability in food production. Each of the criteria have an associated label that producers can put on packaging, websites and promotional materials to protect the producers from imitation and assure their customers;
- Of the heritage of their ingredients.
- Of the unfailing high-quality standards used to source and produce the item.
- To indicate a bond with the location of origin’s territory.
- And also the original socio-cultural and entrepreneurial context they belong to.
- That information and guarantees about principal features and qualities are accurate.
About The Drink
The geographical indication identifies a spirit drink as originating in the territory of a country, region or locality, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristics of that drink is essentially attributed to its geographical origin. There are 250 registered ‘Geographical Indications’, including Scotch whisky, French Cognac, Polish vodka and Vermouth di Torino.
The History and Production of Vermouth di Torino
The art of adding flavours to wines began in ancient Greece and was carried through the middle ages by monks, doctors and alchemists. During the 15th century, the liquor makers of Turin (now the capital of the Italian region of Piedmont) began to distinguish themselves for their expertise in distillation, and vermouth became a convivial aperitif drink as well as a medical tincture.
In 1768, the King of Savoy named Piedmont vermouth ‘Aperitivo de Courte’. In 1786, Merchant Antonio Benedetto Carpano introduced the first vermouth brand-as-we-know-it in Turin. This unique style of vermouth quickly spread to other royal courts in Southern Europe, so by the late 18th century, Turin’s locally produced wine had achieved fame beyond Italian borders.
Despite the first pale, dry vermouth brand being produced in France by Joseph Noilly, Italian brands such as Gancia (1850), Ballor (1856), Cinzano (1860), and Martini (1863) launched an array of vermouth styles to international success. Italian vermouth became internationally renowned for its white and red variants, and in 1861, the newly formed unified Kingdom of Italy protected the wine by forbidding sales outside of Piedmont. By the early twentieth century, vermouth became a beloved cocktail ingredient by cocktail bartenders and drinkers.
While the development of Vermouth di Torino began in the Piedmontese capital, processing techniques have significantly evolved over the years. Producers implemented new methods to aid traditional ones. Their coexistence continues to this day, preserving and enhancing the original ways of production.
Vermouth Classifications Explained
Vermouth di Torino is classified according to its colour: White, Amber, Rosé, or Red, and the amount of sugar used in its preparation.
- If there are less than 30 grams of sugar per litre it is Extra Dry
- If there are less than 50 grams of sugar per litre it is Dry
- If the sugar content is greater or equal to 130 grams per litre, it’s labelled Sweet
Vermouth di Torino defined as “Superiore” must contain an alcoholic content greater than or equal to 17% by volume. At least 50% of the wine produced must be from the Italian region of Piedmont and flavoured with herbs, other than wormwood, grown or harvested in the area. These elements guarantee the quality and authenticity of Vermouth di Torino.
Vermouth di Torino Ingredients
- The critical ingredients of Vermouth di Torino are the herbs from the genus Artemisia, especially absinthium (Common wormwood) and pontica (Roman wormwood), grown or harvested in alpine
- The base wine needs depth, structure and acidity to support the aromas and balance the additional sweetness.
- Producers add sweetness using sugar, grape must, caramelized sugar or honey. When the vermouth is classified as ‘Amber’, the colour must be exclusively from added caramel.
The unique taste of the Vermouth di Torino comes from the connection between the geographical environment, the characteristics of the herbs and the wine from which it is made, and the production methods which combine artisan techniques with innovation.
The Production Regulation of the Vermouth di Torino PGI was defined and approved by the Ministry of Agricultural Food and Forestry Policies with the Decree of March 22, 2017. The masterclass will talk about the wonderful history, the marriage between modern and traditional production techniques and the quality of the taste of this ancient wine, both on its own and as a mixing ingredient.
About the Food
PECORINO TOSCANO DOP
This local cheese is famed for its unique and delicate flavour which stems from the harmonious balance between ingredients, the environment and long-standing dairy tradition. Pecorino Toscano has century old roots in sheep farming, one of the many practises passed down from the Etruscans and then Romans. According to historical sources this cheese was very popular at banquets of the nobility, and particularly favoured by notable Renaissance ruler Lorenzo di Piero de’ Medici. Pecorino Toscano is characteristic of Tuscany and the neighbouring municipalities of Lazio and Umbria. It is produced from sheep that are grazed extensively on soils rich in herbs containing essential oils that give the cheese a totally original flavour.
Limoni Costa D’Amalfi PGI
The lemon of Amalfi Coast is also known as ’Sfusato.’ It has an intense aroma, low acidity, juicy pulp and almost no seeds. The juice is rich in vitamin C and essential oils. The lemons are grown in the Italian region of Campania, specifically in Atrani, and in part of the territories of Amalfi, Cetara, Conca dei Marini, Furore, Maiori, Minori, Positano, Praiano, Ravello, Scala, Tramonti, Vietri sul Mare. The first lemon groves were planted there between the tenth and twelfth centuries on the coastal territory between Positano and Cetara in fenced in ‘squares.’
Their cultivation changed this coastline into a world famous, recognisable region linking classic Italian heritage with the iconic lemon grove terraces. Today about 400 hectares are dedicated to the cultivation of Lemon d’Amalfi, and about 100 thousand tons are harvested every year.
The zest has a medium thickness, and thanks to its aromatic properties, is also very suitable for the preparation of cocktails and is often used to add aroma to alcoholic products.
OLIVES FROM THE WESTERN GREECE REGION
In Greece, olive oil has been used in many different ways since ancient times and the olive tree has historically been associated with culture, religion, nutrition and health. Many archaeological findings testify the importance of olives in Greece and their direct relationship with the social environment. It’s believed that the first olive tree, in its wild form, appeared in Greece in 12000 BC and was cultivated for the first time by either the Syrians or the Minoan civilisations between 3500-2500 BC.
Today there are about 150 million olive trees in Greece, 2,800 olive mills and 600 thousand families sustain themselves through cultivating olives. Many of whom have formed the Agri-food Partnership of the Region of Western Greece, a non-profit company. Their aim is to support local communities, so they can grow heritage olive varieties, promote traditional farming and produce quality products that are the result of a unique combination of human and environmental factors.
To find out more about the Vermouth di Torino, Pecorino Toscano PDO cheese, the coastal Lemon d’Amalfi and olives from Western Greece please join the UKBG and MAP for our masterclass pairing food and mixology. The masterclass will start at 10 am and take place at Tavolino, London on November the 14th. To join us please contact a member of the UKBG team