Cocchi Vermouth di Torino is a historic sweet vermouth from Italy’s Piedmont region that raises the bar for aromatized wines. Flavors of rhubarb, bitter orange, cocoa, and baking spice make it complex enough for boozy cocktails, but it’s also gentle enough to sip solo or enjoy in low-ABV drinks.
Company Bava Winery
Winery Giulio Cocchi Spumanti (Asti, Italy)
Released 1891 (re-released in 2011)
Proof 32 (16% ABV)
Delicious on its own over ice or mixed into a range of cocktails
Complex enough for discerning drinkers, but still more accessible than many bottles in its category
Production adheres to strict, historical parameters.
Different palates have different preferences; those looking for a more vanilla-forward sweet vermouth might opt for a bottle like Carpano Antica Formula instead.
Nose: The fruitiness of the nose is the first thing that jumps out at you, full of fig, plum, and orange zest with star anise and a mildly musky undertone. Part and parcel to the grapey, juicy note is the Moscato grape, an intensely aromatic variety, which plays with the botanicals in the blend to create depth and intrigue that draw you right into the glass.
Palate: Despite the depth of flavor, Cocchi is light and agile on the palate. Notes of rhubarb, bitter orange, chamomile, and a grapey Moscato base stand out, along with baking spice, cocoa, vanilla bean, and bitterness from gentian and wormwood.
Finish: Sweet rhubarb notes stick around on the back of your tongue, along with a lip-smacking mild bitterness.
This is an aromatized wine to judge all others by. When you try it for the first time, you might just ask yourself, “So that’s what sweet vermouth is supposed to taste like?” Yes. Yes it is.
The recipe dates back to 1891, when a young Florentine pastry chef named Giulio Cocchi moved to Asti (about 30 miles outside of Turin), and became enchanted with the local Moscato grape and its ability to make outstanding aromatized wines alongside local botanicals. Cocchi learned to make wine and distill it, creating a line of fortified wines that would go on to become popular in the region and beyond.
Today, Cocchi Vermouth di Torino is one of the gold standards of the vermouth category. It’s light on its proverbial feet and adds layers of flavor intrigue to cocktails with rich and slightly bitter notes of cocoa, ripe fruit, spices, and wormwood, but it’s also gently sweet enough to savor by itself over ice with a twist.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a sweet vermouth cocktail where Cocchi doesn’t shine, but it lifts the ubiquitous Negroni to new heights. And while its rich notes of cocoa and ripe fruit work beautifully in cocktails that have a backbone, such as the rye-based Remember the Maine, its gentleness won’t overwhelm low-ABV cocktails like an Americano. That said, those looking for a different and perhaps more intense flavor profile in their sweet vermouth might instead opt for bottles like Carpano Antica Formula, Punt e Mes, or Cocchi’s own Dopo Teatro.
Vermouth di Torino has been a recognized designation in the EU since the early 1990s, but stricter regulations to preserve the style went into effect in 2017, in large part thanks to the push of several producers in the region who came together to form the Vermouth di Torino Institute. Today, a bottle with “Vermouth di Torino” on the label must adhere to the following rules: 50% of the base white wine and at least three of the botanicals used must be sourced from the Piedmont region, it must be bottled between 16% and 22% ABV, and it must contain artemisia (wormwood).
The Bottom Line
This northern Italian bottle is a must-have sweet vermouth for any bar—professional or home. Layers of cocoa, fruit, and spice notes make it complex, but it’s still accessible for beginners who might find some sweet vermouths too intense.