$ — 15% ABV — Sweet
Probably the most classic vermouth on the market, Cinzano [chin-zah-noh] had been the go-to for bartenders for a long time. Wine during the rise of Sonoma had been all about supercharged ripe flavors, something you could easily get for a few bits with Cinzano.
Today, subtle wines are more in vogue, which has led to the rise of less sweet and more complex vermouths like Dolin. But bartenders remain dedicated to the loud traditional flavors of Italian vermouths, splitting the trade. Today's tipplers lean either for big juicy flavors, or very subtle and bitter ones — with not a lot of room in the middle.
As more and more high-flavor spirits hit the market, mixing becomes a bit more of a balancing act. The brands have to be chosen for each other. The popular Dolin allows milder spirits to shine. The bombastic Carpano Antica can go head-to-head with the biggest flavors. But out of place, either can become a poor choice.
Cinzano, however, is right in the middle with four very distinct notes: some herbal flavor, some very mild spice, rich fruitiness, all wrapped in a pleasing tannic flavor that will pair well with just about any barrel-aged spirit. And it's still just as inexpensive as ever.