Vermouth is an acquired taste in the United States, although it’s far more popular in Italy, France and Spain. Drunk as an apéritif or as an essential part of many cocktails — most famously, the Martini — every home bartender worth his bar salt should stock some decent vermouth.

Vermouth is a wine infused with herbs, caramel, sugar, alcohol and water in varying proportions. “Sweet vermouth” presents at 30 to 32 proof, with either a clear or reddish tint. It can have up to 15 percent sugar by volume. “Dry vermouth” clocks in at 36 proof with no more than 5 percent sugar.

Use sweet vermouth for Manhattans, dry vermouth for Martinis. There’s a hybrid beast — the half-sweet vermouth — but its probably best left to professional mixologists.