Over the years I have featured Cinzano on many a back bar, but it’s only recently that I have decided to really look into the brand and why it is something I keep listing.
Cinzano dates back to 1757 and the Turin herbal shop of two brothers, Giovanni Giacomo and Carlo Stefano Cinzano. On the 6th June of that year, they were awarded the title of Master Distillers after combining their secret aromatic wines with local herbs, spices and wines.
They created a new ‘vermouth rosso’ (red vermouth) using Italian red wine, sugar and alcohol infused with aromatic plants from the Italian Alps in a still-secret recipe combining 35 ingredients. What became known as the “vermouth of Turin” proved popular with the bourgeoisie of Turin and, later, Casanova. Cinzano Bianco followed, based on a different combination of Italian white wine with herbs that included artemisia (wormwood), cinnamon, cloves, citrus and gentian; it was followed by an Extra Dry version.
With a growing reputation, the Savoy monarchs came forward and asked them to design a wine to rival the French Champagnes. In 1840, Italy had its first ever sparkling wine. Cinzano are also credited in having one of the first advertising campaigns back in 1887, being printed within the Il Telegrafo in the city of Leghorn. 1925 saw the first design of the now recognisable logo of blue and red, said to symbolise nobility, tradition and depth of the Mediterranean. Exports began in the 1890’s, to Argentina, Brazil and the USA, among others, whilst in Paris in 1912, Cinzano was the first product to be advertised with a neon sign.
The phrase ‘chin chin’ also originated from a Cinzano advertising campaign (one of 230 between 1957 and 1980), where Rita Pavone starred with the jingle ‘Cin cin Cinzoda / una voglia da morir. . . . .’ or Cheers cheers Cinzoda / to die for. . . . .’ The family owned business ran until 1985 where they started to sell shares, culminating with an agreement with International Distillers & Vintners (a subsidiary of Grand Metropolitan) to purchase in 1992. Grand Metropolitan became Diageo in 1997 but with sales behind its main rival Martini, 1999 saw Gruppo Campari take the brand on board and lifted its image with collaborations with famous artists, just like they had been doing during its heyday.
So how does the range fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes on the one’s I have tried so far –
Cinzano Bianco – 15%
Strong on the nose with lots of fresh herbs and a slight aroma of faint aniseed. Fresh and sweet on the palate with herbal and citrus flavours blending nicely.
Cinzano Rosso – 15%
Delicate on the nose with hints of red wine and herbal notes coming through. A little sweet on the palate, with a soft texture that develops a lingering fruit. Shorter finish than expected, with a slight dryness.
These are fantastic served chilled, but have you thought about asking your bartender for one of these? –
240 ml Cinzano Rosso
1/2 Fresh orange cut into small cubes
1/2 Teaspoon of cinnamon powder
Gently muddle the fresh orange and cinnamon in a glass. Add ice and fill with Cinzano Rosso. Stir well and garnish with a stick of cinnamon.
If you’re an adventurous type with your cocktails or drinks, Cinzano is perfect for pushing the boundaries. A Rose, Extra Dry and Orancio are also available to try in many a bar too. It’s always a useful vermouth to have in your drinks cabinet too as it’s a classic within Martini’s and Manhattan’s.
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