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Thread: Punt e Mes

  1. #1
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    Punt e Mes

    Anyone familiar with this bitter aperitivo wine?

    I'm trying to track some down, but no one distributes it in TX. I have had an interest recently in Campari as an alternative to sweet vermouth in Manhattans (and as a part of a Negroni), and have found its flavor very nice with club soda as well. I'm looking at trying to get some Punt e Mes, but only if it's worth the price.

    My understanding is that it is quite bitter, moreso than Campari. Fortunately, I enjoy bitter drinks (usually). Plus, I get honed in on ideas like this, and they drive me crazy until I try them.

    So, what say you? Worth tracking down and having shipped in? Or should I wait until I travel up north or out to California (who knows when?) where it is more widely available?

  2. #2
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    Re: Punt e Mes

    Quote Originally Posted by TBoner View Post
    Anyone familiar with this bitter aperitivo wine?

    I'm trying to track some down, but no one distributes it in TX. I have had an interest recently in Campari as an alternative to sweet vermouth in Manhattans (and as a part of a Negroni), and have found its flavor very nice with club soda as well. I'm looking at trying to get some Punt e Mes, but only if it's worth the price.

    My understanding is that it is quite bitter, moreso than Campari. Fortunately, I enjoy bitter drinks (usually). Plus, I get honed in on ideas like this, and they drive me crazy until I try them.
    It's well worth it. I haven't tried Campari, so I can't really compare the two, but I just might do so soon. If you drink it straight up, it starts with a sweet, almost cola-like flavor, and then the bitter side comes in with a wallop. It works very well in a Manhattan - and if you toss in a little Cointreau or maraschino liqueur (the latter makes it a Red Hook), you get a very tasty drink with a lot of bitter/sweet interplay.

    Sam's in Chicago has it for $16.99 a bottle - a bit steep for a vermouth, but it's good stuff.
    Oh no! You have walked into the slavering fangs of a lurking grue!

  3. #3
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    Re: Punt e Mes

    All right, Critter. This sounds like it's right up my alley. And that price doesn't seem steep to me...Campari is frequently about $25 around here.

    That said, I'll have to see if shipping is possible. If this is considered wine, I'm okay. But liquor can't be shipped in from out of state. Trading may be on the horizon.

  4. #4
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    Re: Punt e Mes

    I think Punt e Mes has a taste profile between sweet vermouth & Campari. If you have any shops that specialize in Italian wines, they might carry it.
    Chris/Oregon

  5. #5
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    Re: Punt e Mes

    As with any vermouth, this would be considered a fortified wine. I'm not sure whether Texas would consider it to be hard liquor or not. It's 16% ABV - by comparison, Noilly Prat red vermouth is also 16%, and Martini & Rossi white is 18%.
    Oh no! You have walked into the slavering fangs of a lurking grue!

  6. #6
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    Re: Punt e Mes

    Score!

    I was dusty hunting with Grain Brain yesterday, and we stumbled across some very old Punt e Mes. I think it must have been part of a lot the store bought from a NY distributor in the late-70s, as there were NY tax strips on several bottles of other things. These weren't tax-stripped.

    Very cool bottle and label, actually. But enough about that.

    The taste was huge, much more intense than any sweet vermouth I've ever had. The cola description is right on, plus some nutty sweetness up front. The bitterness doesn't allow it to linger, though. Similar to Campari in the citrusy bite of the bitterness - like it might come from citrus pith. Really complex.

    Grain Brain and I mixed up Red Hooks first, since I've only recently found and begun using maraschino liqueur. That was terrific, a flavor profile unlike any cocktail I've ever had. I don't know if sweet vermouth and bitters together could ever approximate the Punt e Mes. It's just so powerful and has such body that other sweet vermouths might come across as cloyingly sweet.

    After the Red Hooks, we used the Punt e Mes in Manhattans made with Laird's bonded apple brandy instead of rye/bourbon. The drink was just outstanding. I'm in love with Punt e Mes, though I do wonder if the nuttiness is an intentional part of the profile or the result of slow Madeirization. I know the stuff is fortified, so it should hold up in the bottle indefinitely. Either way, I really like it.

    Oh, and the price was right, too: $10.99.

  7. #7
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    Re: Punt e Mes

    Quote Originally Posted by TBoner View Post
    The taste was huge, much more intense than any sweet vermouth I've ever had. The cola description is right on, plus some nutty sweetness up front. The bitterness doesn't allow it to linger, though. Similar to Campari in the citrusy bite of the bitterness - like it might come from citrus pith. Really complex.

    I'm in love with Punt e Mes, though I do wonder if the nuttiness is an intentional part of the profile or the result of slow Madeirization. I know the stuff is fortified, so it should hold up in the bottle indefinitely. Either way, I really like it.

    I haven't really noticed a nuttiness in the rather fresh bottles I've had - you might be on to something with the Madeirization, or perhaps the formula has been altered over the years. In any case, though, it's a favorite of mine.

    I also have a bottle of Carpano Antica Formula, and it has a definite similarity to Punt e Mes, but with less of the bitter punch. It's magnificent in its own right, though. Among "conventional" red vermouths, Antica Formula and Vya are both in a league far beyond the typical reds.
    Oh no! You have walked into the slavering fangs of a lurking grue!

  8. #8
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    Re: Punt e Mes

    One other thing I've noticed - there are two different labels that I've seen. The newer one (imported by Wilson Daniels) has absolutely no mention of Carpano anywhere, while the old one (imported by Branca Products) has the Carpano name embossed on the bottle as well as printed on the label.

    If I go to the official website (note: site entirely in Italian and has obnoxious audio), the bottle pictured is the new label.

    I haven't noticed a difference between the two, though...
    Oh no! You have walked into the slavering fangs of a lurking grue!

 

 

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