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Substituting dry vermouth for dry white wine

delys77 Oct 16, 2013 03:27 PM

Hello all

I swear I had a bottle of white wine kicking around but it seems to have been guzzled by someone. I don't want to go back out but I have some dry vermouth in the pantry. I wouldn't normally worry to much about swapping the vermouth for the wine if I was using a small quantity, but the recipe calls for 2/3 cup of dry white to deglaze and make a pan sauce, I'm a bit worried that so much vermouth will be very noticeably different from the white wine called for.

I like vermouth but it is decidedly stronger than most wines I would cook with, should I cut it with some stock or scale it back.


Thanks in advance.

  1. coll Oct 16, 2013 03:28 PM

    I do it all the time, if that eases your mind any. I find the flavor enhanced, if anything.

    1 Reply
    1. re: coll
      uman Oct 21, 2013 09:21 AM

      Agreed. And always available in the pantry.

    2. greygarious Oct 16, 2013 03:39 PM

      I don't recall seeing Julia Child using anything BUT vermouth for most of her sauces. I think it will be fine either diluted or not.

      9 Replies
      1. re: greygarious
        Gastronomos Oct 17, 2013 11:30 AM

        Julia Child has been recorded saying that her use of vermouth is because some wines when reduced can become bitter. I agree and I use Dry Vermouth for cooking as it is a shelf stable wine that sits on the counter and I KNOW what I'm getting. I do NOT know what I'm getting with every bottle of white I happen upon. Consistancy is key.

        1. re: Gastronomos
          JMF Oct 21, 2013 09:42 AM

          Vermouth isn't really shelf stable. It should be kept in the fridge, transferred to smaller containers to keep from contact with air in the open bottle, and used within 4-6 weeks. Although if kept chilled and in smaller and smaller containers it can keep longer. the colder the better.

          1. re: JMF
            fldhkybnva Oct 23, 2013 04:05 PM

            Good to know, I've been keeping it on the counter as my mom did for occasional martinis.

            1. re: fldhkybnva
              Gastronomos Oct 23, 2013 06:46 PM

              since I don't drink the stuff and only cook with it, the 750mL bottle and sometimes the 1L bottle will sit half empty on my counter for up to a few days, maybe a week unrefrigerated until I use the rest. 1/2 a bottle at a time usually and I cook with wine often enough, if not daily. if I drank the stuff I might be pickier, but deglazing with dry white wine or dry vermouth...

            2. re: JMF
              hotoynoodle Oct 24, 2013 06:09 AM

              vermouth is fortified, so technically is shelf-stable. once opened, it will not go "off" like regular table wine, but the aromatics and flavors will begin to fade.

              1. re: hotoynoodle
                JMF Oct 24, 2013 07:54 AM

                I disagree. While the fortification helps, and the wine is already partially oxidized on purpose, the additional oxidation is only slightly slowed down. The abv. is still under 20%, not enough for preservation. It will go bad within a few weeks at room temp., especially the less quantity in the bottle. In the fridge it has about three months, more if colder, and if transferred to smaller bottles so less air in bottle.

                1. re: JMF
                  hotoynoodle Oct 24, 2013 08:27 AM

                  having worked in many restaurants where vermouth can languish as a victim of people preferring "martinis" without it these days, it's not all that delicate. agree that fridge storage is best and its shelf-life isn't infinite.

          2. re: greygarious
            ChefJune Oct 17, 2013 01:14 PM

            she didn't, greygarious... unless she happened to have an already open bottle of white lying around. And she repeatedly suggested the substitution to anyone close enough to hear her!.

            1. re: ChefJune
              jmckee Oct 21, 2013 09:50 AM

              I think she said that for vermouth you should use about 2/3 of the amount of wine called for in the recipe.

          3. eatzalot Oct 16, 2013 03:52 PM

            Having recently posted to a thread on inexpensive Burgundies for authentic Burgundian stews, I have to say I find dry vermouth very useful and versatile as a cooking wine, especially in dishes that use wine as a deliberate minority flavoring ingredient rather than a bulk liquid (for the latter, in wine-intensive braises, poaching liquids, or sauces, I usually use inexpensive Sauvignon Blancs with little or no oak -- estimable at a glance by color, if they're in clear bottles as they often are -- $3 or less per 750ml bottle at large California retailers on sale). So do most other experienced home cooks I know who use wine frequently in cooking.

            Factors: Vermouth by definition is an herbed wine (trivia: the word is an Anglicization of German "Wermuth," wormwood or wormwood wine -- from the sage-like plant that traditionally flavored it). The herbal hint in the flavor is very compatible with certain dishes, adding an extra complexity. And, being mildly fortified and screwtop-closed, opened vermouth bottles will keep impressively long, if well sealed and refrigerated.

            Short version: Go for it!

            2 Replies
            1. re: eatzalot
              fldhkybnva Oct 23, 2013 04:06 PM

              I also use inexpensive Sauvignon Blancs as my go to cooking wines. I think the bottle I've stuck with is $7 or so and never disappoints even when I've kept it in the fridge for weeks. I also love cooking with Vermouth. It's great with steak and mushrooms.

              1. re: fldhkybnva
                eatzalot Oct 23, 2013 04:33 PM

                At my place, maybe a third of the wine used is for cooking. White wines more than red, and for all sorts of things, which often seem to be Mediterranean in origin: ossobuco and other stewing liquids, poaching broth for fish or meat pieces, French poultry fricasee or chasseur, Marcella Hazan's Bolognese ragu with nutmeg, or various Italian stew traditions in which, incidentally, standard practice is to add wine early, cook it down quickly to almost nothing, then add the "stewing" liquid or vegetables and proceed to braise. So I often use 1, 2, or more bottles in a week, just for cooking.

                A local large chain pharmacy with good wine department here in California has things like Forestville Sauvignon Blanc for around $3 (per 750ml bottle) on sale, and it will keep for a good couple of years if stored reasonably cool, so I buy it in quantity now and then, for further discount. I try other labels periodically too. These are such commodity wines that the dedicated wine dealers where I buy good stuff for the table seldom carry them, yet they are not wines most wine drinkers find unpleasant in the glass. Trial and error (and plenty of cooking opportunities) can find good value for this purpose.

            2. JerryMe Oct 16, 2013 04:09 PM

              I'm not a wine drinker and I keep vermouth on hand just for the purpose of using in recipes. Delish! Let us know your results!

              2 Replies
              1. re: JerryMe
                delys77 Oct 16, 2013 06:54 PM

                Ok all the vermouth was a winner. The sauce has fair amount if thyme in it, which I was worried would conflict, but it turned out great. I did notice a difference in the final product, but it was a good thing. Thanks all!

                1. re: delys77
                  fldhkybnva Oct 23, 2013 04:06 PM

                  I'd imagine the herbal flavor of vermouth would pair well with the thyme which it sounds like it did.

              2. t
                tardigrade Oct 16, 2013 06:55 PM

                Dry vermouth is my go-to "cooking wine", especially for seafood. It contains a variety of herbs, so it can have a noticeably different taste than a chard or sauv blanc: if you're making a strongly herbed dish to begin with, it may blend in nicely. As for a sauce, start with a little - enough to deglaze the pan - then taste: if you like the taste, go with it, if not, use stock.

                1. r
                  rockycat Oct 17, 2013 05:20 AM

                  Another plus if you're not much of a drinker - like me - is that vermouth keeps longer. Sames as everyone else, vermouth is my go-to when white wine is called for in a recipe.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: rockycat
                    delys77 Oct 17, 2013 10:55 AM

                    I'm actually quite fond of white wine, but as a result we are often out of it, ha ha!

                    Which is why there is always vermouth in the cupboard as the husband enjoys a martini here and there, but we always have plenty of vermouth on hand.

                    1. re: delys77
                      Up With Olives Oct 17, 2013 11:00 AM

                      I've used it for years, also, a la Mme Child. Just a note for those of you who are keeping it in the cupbord -- please don't! Fridge is where it wants to be. It does go off.

                  2. JungMann Oct 17, 2013 09:13 AM

                    Can I ask what vermouth people are using? I mainly use vermouth in cocktails where the difference between Dolin and Martini & Rossi is glaring. I'd be curious to know if the same preferences carry over into cooking as well.

                    9 Replies
                    1. re: JungMann
                      eatzalot Oct 17, 2013 09:29 AM

                      Noilly Prat.

                      Kept tightly closed and refrigerated, of course. Like other fortified wines I use for cooking (Madeira, sherries, etc.)

                      1. re: JungMann
                        coll Oct 17, 2013 09:34 AM

                        Noilly Prat also.

                        1. re: JungMann
                          ChefJune Oct 17, 2013 01:45 PM

                          Only using Dolin these days. Martini & Rossi, and even Noilly Prat are lacking. I only keep one dry vermouth in house, and use it for cooking AND martinis.

                          1. re: ChefJune
                            JungMann Oct 21, 2013 09:17 AM

                            Dolin is what I usually keep on hand, but I bought Noilly Prat based on the recommendations here. So far the martinis have been nice. We'll see how it works out when I eventually around to cooking with it.

                            1. re: ChefJune
                              eatzalot Oct 21, 2013 09:48 AM

                              In case any of you missed it, Noilly Prat underwent a much-discussed formulation change for the US market a couple years back, probably mentioned on CH wine or spirits boards.

                              Because I liked its earlier style (as evidently did many other people in the US), and since it keeps well when cool and unopened, I bought a reserve supply in 375ml bottles, so the original US form is all that I refer to here. I doubt that the formulation change matters as much to cooking as cocktails.

                              As one fanatic home-cook friend and food writer (the sort of person whose back yard is given over to specialty vegs. and herbs) put it, dry white vermouth comes with food-compatible herb flavors already built in, thus saving work for the cook in savory dishes.

                              1. re: eatzalot
                                JMF Oct 21, 2013 10:18 AM

                                I picked up a case of the original Noilly Prat dry in 375 ml. bottles when they changed the recipe, but am down to my last three.

                            2. re: JungMann
                              fldhkybnva Oct 23, 2013 04:07 PM

                              I use Martini and Rossi but don't drink alcohol regularly so probably wouldn't notice a difference from other brands. Perhaps my next bottle should be something else as it sounds like it's not the best choice.

                              1. re: fldhkybnva
                                JMF Oct 24, 2013 05:45 AM

                                Martini & Rossi is just fine. Decent in a cocktail, and great for cooking. Sure you can pay more, but if it isn't for a cocktail, then why bother?

                                1. re: JMF
                                  fldhkybnva Oct 24, 2013 05:53 AM

                                  Yea, I never drink it. Might try another when this bottle runs out which likely won't be soon.

                            3. bobabear Oct 17, 2013 11:43 AM

                              Cooks Illustrated has an article about white wine for cooking and they highly recommend dry vermouth as a substitute.

                              1. Scrofula Oct 23, 2013 07:29 PM

                                Does sweet vermouth have any cooking uses? It would be tempting, given the greater shelf life.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Scrofula
                                  hotoynoodle Oct 24, 2013 06:12 AM

                                  sure you can cook with sweet. it has a good balance of spicy, bitter and sweet. it pairs well with game birds, especially duck.

                                2. eatzalot Oct 24, 2013 12:03 PM

                                  Always remember, any opened wine, fortified or not, keeps longer when (a) tightly sealed against air contact and (b) refrigerated. With experience using wines in the past few decades, I've often noticed a difference in a very few days between the same opened wine kept at room vs refrigerator temp., other things being equal.

                                  The latter should not be surprising because it isn't limited to wines. Chemical process rates as a whole -- oxidation being one of countless examples, and far from the only one affecting wine -- are sharply temperature-sensitive. From the underlying thermodynamics, which gives quantitative results of the general form below, as in the Arrhenius equation (for any fellow armchair food scientists who might appreciate this :-). On another venerable forum dealing with wine (not CH, and certainly not Parker), where some regulars are well known US chemistry faculty having interest in wine chemistry, we've discusses this point in past years. Upshot: keep it cool.

                                  Rates proportional to exp (-[some energy factor]/[kT])

                                  T = absolute (Kelvin) temp., k = Boltzmann constant


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