The owner of the liquor shop below the Porticoes of Piazza della Fiera (now Piazza Castello) on the corner with Via della Palma (now Via Viotti) was Signor Marendazzo. His shop helper was Antonio Benedetto Carpano, who had come to town from Bioglio Biellese and who after appreciating the extra fine qualities of moscato wine, decided to create an aromatic wine from it by adding spices and herbs according to the dictates of certain monks of his native valley.
The novelty was appreciated so much that the Turinese started to crowd the humble drinking place of Piazza Castello which soon became - and was destined to remain for close on 140 years - the most frequented meeting place in town. A basket of the new product was sent to the then ruling Vittorio Amedeo II. He found it so exquisite as to suspend the production of rosolio made at court and the news soon made the new drink's success.
Vermouth is produced with white wine with the addition of a infusion of over 50 different varieties of herbs and spices, sweetened with sugar but without the use of colourings...
The birth of Punt e Mes, the bitter version of Vermouth, was in 1870. One day a group of stock exchange agents was discussing the day's business, in Carpano's shop. One of them, wanting a Vermouth corrected with half a dose of cinchona, inadvertently ordered a punt e mes. Everybody laughed, but this variation to Classical Vermouth was rapidly very successful and became the speciality that has made Carpano world famous.
A real and proper aristocracy of Vermouth makers developed at Turin and in other areas of Piedmont during the 18th Century. Carpano was followed by Cora, Cinzano, Martini & Rossi, Gancia, Anselmo, Ballor, Calissano, Chazalettesand many others, thanks to whom the popularity of Turin's Vermouth became international, in different ways and degrees.
Vermouth is at its best drunk straight, or lengthened with water as a refreshing drink, but always very cool. It's also the indispensable component of some of the most famed cocktails.