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Vermouths form a sub-category of the aperitif family; their defining characteristic is that they must contain wormwood (‘wermut’ in German). Invented in either Italy or France (both countries have a justifiable claim), vermouth is produced from a base of white wine and alcohol, in which a substantial number of plants, roots and spices are infused. Served like liqueurs as an aperitif, they are usually consumed chilled, neat before a meal, or in simple cocktails. The image that has been created by the major brands, such as Martini, Noilly Prat, Cinano and Dolin, has contributed to their disassociation from aperitifs into a separate category.

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