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Nov 8, 2011 06:22 PM

Sherry vs Vermouth

I have a recipe that calls for vermouth. It is a chicken recipe with rice added in at the end. In my pantry I keep cooking grade wines labled sherry and white wine. Will either one of these be any where near a good substitution of should I; 1) go buy cooking vermouth or 2) is it better to always keep these alcholic beverages available? I love to drink wine and I have tried many varieties. The recipe I'm making is Paprika chicken and it only calls for a cup of vermouth. If the majority suggest vermouth, please suggest brands as I am a vermouth virgin!

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  1. Vermouth is vaguely equivalent to a white wine, at least in your recipe. Sherry has a totally different taste, though I am slightly concerned by your statement that the wine is "cooking grade." I hope that means just fairly cheap wine versus the actual cooking wine that has salt etc in it and should not be used because it is crappy. PS You could make this dish without any wine at all and just use chicken stock to provide the necessary liquid.

    1 Reply
    1. re: escondido123

      With regret I must say that by "cooking grade" I mean bought in a grocery market and not a liqour store or market. I have only used them in very small amts and couldn't tell you if they altered the dishes I used them in. My recipe does call for 2 cups of chicken stock when the rice is added and the alcohal is added at the beginning of the 60 min cook time on the chicken so I think I will heed the advice given and buy the "good stuff". I just hope it doesn't taste too good because it may be hard to keep it on hand, if you know what I mean. But again, if it tastes good enough to drink, it should be good enough to cook with. Thank you so much for your help as I am new to this board.

    2. I use dry Gallo vermouth--as recommended by Julia Child. I use a bit to rinse out tomato tins for filetto sauce or to put in a pan sauce. If I need a larger amount, I would use a pinot grigio or chardonnay. Don't use "cooking grade" wines, only what you would enjoy drinking.

      1. Sherry is a fortified white wine (ie, a wine that's been made into liquor, whereas Vermouth is a liquor that is also seasoned with wormwood (hence the difference in taste). Don't bother with any cooking wines at all, as they are just inferior wine with added salt: you are much better off with actual sherry or vermouth from the liquor store. As for brands of vermouth, Martini and Rossi and Cinzano are probably the easiest to find. Be aware that vermouth comes in both sweet and dry varieties, so you'll need to know which you want there. If it was me, I would probably just sub out the sherry (again, not cooking sherry) and be done with it. Never hurts to have vermouth around, though.

        10 Replies
        1. re: gilintx

          Thanks for this info. Most helpful. I have a few more hours to think this through. I may very well leave the vermouth out. There are some very nice seasonings without the vermouth including 4 large gloves of garlic, onions, celery, carrots,parsley, salt and pepper with the chicken cooked for one hour. One cup of Vermouth would be added to this before cooking. Rice and 2 cups of chicken stock are added then cooked 30 min more. Sour cream added before serving. Next question I just thought of, does rice go bad if it is stored properly?

          1. re: dbuesch

            the vermouth and sherry are both far more long lasting than white wine and worth having in pantry. they add a complexity of flavor you simply won't get from stock. recipes are "fine" if you leave these wines out, but oh so very much better if you add them in.

            1. re: hotoynoodle

              I heartily agree with all of that; definitely have them in your pantry. I rarely use white wine for cooking, just dry vermouth or sherry when white is called for.

              1. re: hotoynoodle

                i agree as well. when you cook w/ vermouth, use dry vermouth;sherry, use dry cocktail sherry. keep opened wine in the frig or cook down and freeze. i interchange dry vermouth and dry white wine if i'm out of one. You can also find wine in small 8 ou.bottle six packs too. i inventory some of these from Black Swan vineyard ( in New Zealand i think.) for white wine (we only drink red so a big white wine bottle takes up alot of room in our crowded frigs.)

              2. re: dbuesch

                the alcohol will help extract more flavor from the aromatics.

                rice going bad? i've never heard of that.

                1. re: alkapal

                  If it's NOT stored properly, there are food safety issues with rice for sure. In the fridge, it does dry out eventually; but I often freeze it before that point, nice to have some "instant" rice around.

                  1. re: coll

                    i just keep mine in a sealed glass or plastic container. i don't buy a lot at any one time, really.

                    if it is not stored properly, sure, you might have problems -- as with any food.

                    1. re: alkapal

                      Oh sorry I was talking about cooked rice, not raw.

                      1. re: coll

                        ahhh, now there you certainly can have problems. but someone on these boards said that cooked rice left in a pot on the stove gets some weird organism that grows overnight making it unsafe. i had up to reading that sometimes left rice on the stove overnight and never had any problem.

              3. re: gilintx

                Vermouth is a fortified wine, not a liquor. As such, once it is opened, it will turn relatively quickly if not consumed or refrigerated.

              4. if you buy some sherry as well, you might want to try this lobster bisque.

                1. These are two of my favorite cooking ingredients. Completely different in flavor and yet both enhance sauces and soups tremendously. I used to use a dry white wine when making dishes like picatta, or sauces. I find that Vermouth doesn't give that winey unpleasant taste that wines do sometimes no matter how long it's cooked. The Vermouth cooks off leaving just the right flavor. Another problem was that I ran into wines differing in flavor even if I used the same dry white wine and same label. No more problems with that. Ah Sherry, another one and one that I can use many different ways, can't live without it. Just use a good sherry, none of that cooking sherry, don't do it, it's bitter.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: chef chicklet

                    Funny, I used vermouth for many years then starting using 2 Buck Chuck white wine from TJs when I moved to California. I ran out and used vermouth in a risotto but didn't like the flavor as much, I thought it was too pronounced. Different taste buds, different taste.

                    1. re: escondido123

                      yes, i can't imagine only vermouth in a risotto, either. maybe a touch in a rich mushroom risotto (like i might add a splash to an intense bisque) -- but not like the manner or volume that i'd use wine in risotto. maybe i'll give it a try in the larger amount (there are many recipes for mushroom risotto with vermouth. and martini & rossi is italian, after all ;-)).

                      ps, i see that M&R also produce noilly prat vermouth. any vermouth experts out there who can describe flavor differences, if any?

                      1. re: alkapal

                        noilly prat only one i've ever used because my mom told me it was the best. she knew her vermouth :-}

                        1. re: alkapal

                          Noilly prat costs $4.00 more than Martini and Rossi here. My choice for martinis as it has a more floral aspect which I enjoy. I prefer M&R for cooking as it doesn't seem to overpower the recipie.

                          As an aside, I always follow a recipie exactly the first time I try anything. Then I have a base to which I can add or delete if I desire.

                        2. re: escondido123

                          Yes different taste buds. I can't drink the 2 buck Chuck I just can't get past the taste of it. I'm not trying to yuck your yum, I really don't care for it, and I've mentioned it before. And it's just not that wine, it's many dry white wines that taste not good at all to me. So that''s why I use the vermouth, it's consistent. I don't know if I'd use a dry white or vermouth in a risotto, I'd have to think about the wines and the flavor notes and what kind of risotto I was making. Not all wines go with. Sorry if I mislead you to believe that i ONLY use vermouth in every single dish I make. For chicken picatta which has lemon and capers, I love it.
                          I'm making French Onion Soup tomorrow, I searched long and hard to find a nice red that would compliment the caramelized onions. I'm not using vermouth, but a dry, slightly sweet red wine with beef and chicken stock.