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Dubonnet Rouge

Dubonnet Rouge


By Robert Plotkin

Dubonnet Rouge was created in 1846 by Frenchman Joseph Dubonnet who intended the sweetened, fortified wine to be a restorative elixir for French Foreign Legion troops on their missions to Africa and Asia. Now acknowledged as the grand dame of aperitifs, the wine is produced in two versions, both of which are still made according to the same secret recipe devised 150-years ago.

Dubonnet Rouge is produced on a base of premium red wine that is infused with a proprietary blend of herbs, spices, peels and quinine. The wine is fortified with grape spirits to an elevated strength of 19% alcohol by volume. The famed aperitif is light and refreshing, characteristically aromatic with a delicate body and a palate of tangy fruit. The finish is long and subtly effervescent.

The range also includes Dubonnet Blanc, which is crafted on a base of botanical-infused white wine and fortified with grape spirits. The classy aperitif is significantly drier than its red wine counterpart. As fortified wines, both versions of Dubonnet are most often enjoyed before dinner as an appetite stimulant.

For generations, Dubonnet Rouge has been the bestselling aperitif wine of its type in the United States. While still popularly served neat or over ice, master mixologists are increasingly relying on Dubonnet Rouge rather than Italian vermouth in specialty Martinis and Manhattans. This is a role that Dubonnet is especially adept at playing. Its versatility has made it an integral ingredient in many contemporary cocktails.