Does vermouth have the same health benefits as wine?

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

Does vermouth have the same health benefits as wine?

—Roberta, Reno, Nev.

Dear Roberta,

Vermouth starts out as a dry white wine, then herbs and spices are added to it, and then it is further fortified with spirits, bringing it up to about 18 percent alcohol. There are both dry and sweet vermouths; the sweet versions have sugarcane or caramelized sugar added to them.

It’s believed that vermouth and other versions of aromatized wines were originally created in ancient Greece and Rome for their health benefits. The idea was that the added herbs, particularly the bitter ones, aid in digestion. It eventually evolved from health elixir to cocktail ingredient by the end of the 18th century.

Our understanding of medicine has certainly changed since ancient Greece, and we now know that wine, particularly red wine, may offer myriad health benefits when consumed in moderation. I have not seen any health studies that particularly address the consumption of vermouth, so you should consult your physician before making it a part of your diet.

—Dr. Vinny

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