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Try a Holiday Vermouth Flight

Looking for a new twist on holiday imbibing? Instead of popping open a single aperitif for guests, make things a little more interactive by serving a vermouth flight. Navigating through a few bottles of everyone’s favorite fortified wine is a fun way to stimulate the appetite or help digest a hefty meal, Osteria Langhe owner Aldo Zaninotto says. The European-born restauranteur always has a “dealer’s choice” flight option on the menu at his Piemonte-inspired bar and restaurant in Chicago, in part as a way to celebrate aperitif culture. Following are Zaninotto’s picks for the perfect pre- and post-holiday dinner flights. He recommends starting with white or dry styles, because they have more acidity and lively fruit. “As we are preparing for quite a large meal, red vermouth would be too heavy,” he says. “White and dry vermouth is refreshing and prepares the palate for great flavors.”

Concerned about dishing out the dough for enough bottles to fill a flight? There’s no shame in asking to each bring a bottle as their contribution to the festivities, and remember—vermouth doesn’t have to only be sipped. It can also be mixed in a variety of cocktails! Just be sure to keep your bottles in the fridge to keep them fresh.

Pre-Dinner Dry/White Vermouth Flight

Mancino Vermouth Bianco Ambrato Light-bodied with a lovely floral bouquet and fruity finish, Italy’s Mancino Vermouth is made by infusing 37 botanicals into a Trebbiano wine base. With flavors like green fruit, young kumquat, grapefruit and a subtle mint, it’s an excellent beginning to any flight, and also works swimmingly in a traditional Vesper cocktail., $35

Ransom Dry Vermouth Fortified with brandy made from a blend of Pacific Northwest wines, this Pinot Noir Blanc vermouth from Oregon is dry and elegant. All 16 botanicals are revealed on the bottle’s label, and we picked out fennel, orange peel and verbena with ease., $30

Del Professore White  With a base of 100% Moscato wine, this vermouth—made in conjunction with the Jerry Thomas Project in Rome—has a nice firm acidity with aromatics of “lemon custard, ginger, citrus,” and flavors of “baked vanilla pie,” Zaninotto says. It’s a rich, wintery vermouth perfect for completing a white flight., $28

Post-Dinner Sweet/Red Vermouth Flight

Del Professore Red We imagine Jerry Thomas would approve of this light-bodied sweet vermouth filled with delicate perfume-like aromatics. Muscat wine gives the base a soft sweetness akin to “baked cherry tart, but with more complexity,” Zaninotto says. Bitter orange peel and allspice come through the flavor. A great place to start the red spectrum of vermouth., $30

Punt e Mes Rooted in the famous house of Carpano with a recipe dating back to the mid-1800s, this rich, lush vermouth-quina hybrid explodes with aromatics of brown sugar, clove, juicy berries and bergamot. It’s darker and more supple than other sweet vermouths, with a snappy bitter aftertaste of concentrated orange peel and anise, Zaninotto says., $22

Martini Gran Lusso  Created in 2013 to mark Martini’s 150th anniversary, this grand vermouth is made with a Barbera base with a small percentage of Moscato added. After aging for eight years, this refined option comes out dark and elegant with a mild level of bitterness, and heady blend of savory thyme and oregano flavors. The perfect note to end a holiday meal on., $30

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