It’s 1786, and the world is changing. It’s been a decade since the British colonies in the New World became their own nation. You’re living in the capital of Sardinia, a major Italian state, ruled by the Savoy, an old and powerful family. Business is burgeoning all around you: the cagliarese, your currency, is flowing, and you want some of that sweet, sweet cash. You’re a distiller, and in Italy, that means you know your wine. You’re 22 and working.
You know the ladies are tired of all the red wines out there. They’re too heavy, they’re too dark, they give them the wine teeth look. You know that there is a long medicinal history of adding spice to wine. You know about mulled wine, from the Romans, and even about that germanic vermut, where they used wormwood. You know that in 1733, a fellow named D’Alessio was making a “wormwood wine,” and you know, heck, this could be a goldmine. You’re 22 and working.
So you, Antonio Benedetto Carpano, start mixing together white wine and spices. You take the French pronunciation of vermut and label your bottled drink. You make over thirty varieties of the stuff. You start vending it – and everyone starts buying. Soon, your little shop in Turin is bustling around the clock. Literally.
You’re Antonio Benedetto Carpano. You’ve just invented vermouth. You’re 22, and working.