From its origins with the French Foreign Legion to the legions of modern mixologists still using it today, Dubonnet Rouge Aperitif Wine has been a staple on the cocktail landscape since its introduction in 1846. Created by Parisian chemist / wine merchant Joseph Dubonnet as a means to make quinine more palatable for the soldiers battling malaria in North Africa, Dubonnet's mix of fortified wine, a proprietary blend of herbs, spices and peels, and the medicinal quinine is a recipe that has earned it legendary status in the world of sophisticated drinks.
Described by Sante magazine's tasting panel as:
"Cherry, mint and walnut aromas, with notes of lemon zest, cardamom and toffee... with flavors of orange, nuts, chocolate and coffee; finishes fairly sweet, with lemon and herb notes."
Dubonnet lends itself equally to both classic and innovative cocktails.
Nearly two centuries after its introduction, Dubonnet is the number-one selling aperitif brand in the United States, and still made according to the original family recipe. Its 19 percent alcohol content ensures a refreshing drink in the summertime, while its port-like flavors promise a hint of holiday in the winter months.
In addition to the more well-known Rouge, Dubonnet Blanc also makes a unique cocktail, as well as an excellent cooking ingredient.
Originating from the Latin word aperio, aperitifs were originally conceived to "open" or prepare the appetite for a meal. While there are different styles of aperitif, aperitif wines such as Dubonnet make up a special class called "aromatized" wines - fortified wines that have been flavored with herbs, roots, flowers, barks and other botanicals.
Though there is evidence that the ancient Egyptians believed in drinking a small amount of alcohol before a meal, aperitifs didn't peak in popularity until the late 19th century - and caught on in the United States by 1900. By the turn of the century, Dubonnet was producing more than three million bottles a year and was exported throughout the world.