Today, we’ll decide on a sweet champion, and name an overall champion.
Semi-Finals: The Reds
Dolin v. Boissiere
The contest between Dolin, the best Top Shelf Red, and Boissiere, the best inexpensive Red, for championship of the Red conference was our tightest yet. We both changed our mind several times. They’re very similar in taste, perhaps the most similar overall, in a category that actually had a lot of interesting variety. Both of them are sweet but complex, good for sipping and for cocktails. Finally, gun to the head, we decided …
The Red championship goes to Dolin!
It was a very close thing, though, and I still wonder which one will really end up in our bar. The $4 price difference between the two could go either way. I could imagine us saying, ‘Well, it’s only $4 more for our favorite,’ or, ‘Why would we spend $4 more for a vermouth we had such a hard time deciding was better?’
I think the overall lesson we learned through the Great Vermouth Taste-Off was in vermouth drinking to stick to the middle path. Consistently, the mid-priced brands of Boissiere, Dolin, and Noilly Prat rated highly with us. We didn’t find cheaper white ones even palatable, and while there were interesting reds all along the price continuum, the mid-priced ones were still our favorites. The more expensive brands generally didn’t offer extra value for the money, and often weren’t our favorites even in a price-blind comparison. There is, of course, one exception to the rule: our white winner, and finalist for overall champion, Cocchi Americano.
The Utterly Silly Championship: Cocchi v. Dolin
There is no sensible reason to have a White v. Red championship round. It’s not like anyone is ever going to choose between dry vermouth and sweet vermouth in their bar, or in their drink. Both of these bottles are going to stay on our shelves, regardless of who wins. But, I’m a completist. Vermouth must be drunk, and a winner must be declared. So, here goes.
And the winner is Cocchi Americano!
We immensely enjoyed sipping both of these great drinks, but in the end we just couldn’t say no to the delightfully balanced flavor and palate of Cocchi Americano.