What is Bermet?

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe

town
Downtown Sremci Karlovci


red
Red Bermet

Bermet is a sweet wine that is a specialty of northern Serbia’s Fruška Gora wine region, in the Vojvodina province. It has between 16 and 18% of alcohol and it is usually served as a dessert wine, with coffee and cookies, but can also be served as an aperitif, much like Italian Vermouth. However, Bermet is produced in a different way than Vermouth, through maceration of 20 different herbs and spices. It can be made of red or white grapes, but the exact recipe is secret and held by only a handful of families in the town of Sremci Karlovci. Dulka winery, for example, told us that he makes the base of his white Bermet are župljanka grapes, a local variety, and Merlot for his red. Other vintners seem to use Portugieser, and others blend both red and white grapes.

white
White Bermet

As the story goes, Bermet was very popular among the aristocracy of the Austro-Hungarian empire and was regularly exported to the court in Vienna in large quantities. Moreover, according to some documents, a few Bermets were even included in the Titanic’s wine card, and it was exported to the United States over 150 years ago.

As for Bermet’s taste, it is sweet, but not overly so. It is a very thick, heavy wine that carries a lot of punch, so to compare it to Prošek, Tokaj, or Garnatxa would be a serious mistake.The body changes even more and is very nutty with chestnut tones to it. Then the finish opens up like how you would expect from a dessert wine with lovely sweetness that stays with you, yet there is a bit more complexity to it than that with some sharp sour cherry notes coming through just before it ends.