An aperitif is an alcoholic drink, such as wine, that is served before a meal. It stimulates the appetite and may be served alone or with light hors d'œuvres, such as cheese, antipasti, bread, or pâté.
Many aperitifs are wine based beverages, while others are liqueurs such as vermouth. Fortified and sparkling wines make particularly delicious pre-dinner drinks, as do light cocktails. Some common aperitifs include:
- Sherry: Spanish fortified wine that is used for cooking as well as for sipping
- Champagne: French sparkling wine made in the méthode champenoise style
- Prosecco: Italian frizzante wine made in the charmant style
- Cava: Spanish sparkling wine produced using the méthode champenoise
- Ouzo: Anise flavored liquor popular in Greece
- Campari: A bitter red Italian alcoholic infusion of fruit and herbs that is served before meals
- Lillet: A blend of citrus liqueurs and Bordeaux wine grapes that is slightly sweet and can be served chilled or on the rocks; there are both white and red varieties
- Pernod: An anise flavored liqueur
Recommended White Wine Aperitifs
Still and dry white wines are also popular as aperitifs. These wines are served lightly chilled. White wine aperitifs can be served with cheese and crackers, olives, and light appetizers.
Some to check out include:
- Sauvignon Blanc should be unoaked when served as an aperitif. Simply Naked Unoaked Sauvignon Blanc is a refreshing wine featuring notes of jasmine, tangerine and lime and fruity flavors such as grapefruit and pineapple.
- White Bordeaux is dry white that is easy to drink. Clos du Roy Bordeaux Blanc is a soft white that is dry and has fruity and floral notes.
- Chablis is a sweet white that can be served chilled. Cave L'Aurance Chablis has high citrus notes and a clean finish.
- Rieslings are crisp and somewhat dry with hints of fruit. Kendall Jackson's Riesling Vintner's Reserve 2010 features notes of honeysuckle along with apricot and peach flavors. It is highly aromatic and not overpowering.
Recommended Rosé Aperitifs
Rosé wines also make great aperitifs. These wines can range in color from light pink to deep salmon. Most rosé wines are simple yet refreshing in flavor. They have slightly fruity notes and are the perfect start to any meal. Rosés pair exceptionally well with fresh fruits, pizza, barbeque, and grilled foods.
Some rosé wines to check out include:
- Sutter Home Pink Moscato has a hint of vanilla along with fresh berries, passionfruit, and honeydew.
- Menage a Trois Rose is a smooth wine featuring flavors of raspberries, strawberries, lychee nuts, and flowers.
You can visit your local wine shop and ask for assistance when looking for an aperitif. Another options is to shop online where you will be able to browse various sites for the best selection and deals. Some sites to check out that carry aperitifs include:
- The Wine Buyer carries a selection of wines from white to rosé that can be the perfect start to any meal. Many wines are priced under $15, making them affordable options to consider.
- Wine Chateau has a large selection of fine wines and aperitifs. Expect to find varieties such as Lillet, Dubonnet, and Campari, as well as ginger and artichoke wines.
- Wine.com features a wide variety of wines that make perfect aperitifs. From Proscecco to Champagne, there are option in a range of prices to fit any budget.
- Empire Wine carries both wines and liquors at great prices. You can browse the various categories to find the perfect aperitif for your next party.
History and Tradition
Aperitifs arise from European culinary traditions, where meals were drawn-out affairs meant to be savored. The light, refreshing beverages stimulates the senses without overwhelming, providing an enticing peek at delights yet to come in the meal ahead. The term aperitif originated in France in the mid-1840s as a spicy or herbaceous wine drink that also contained malaria-fighting quinine. With its bitter flavor, many found quinine to be quite unpalatable, and the herbs, spices, and flavors of the grapes covered up the bitterness of the medicine.
France, Italy, and Spain all offer their own versions of the aperitif, a tradition that has made its way to America and other parts of the world.
Serve your guests an aperitif to stimulate their appetites before a large meal. Aperitifs are the perfect start to your next party and can be enjoyed outdoors on a warm day or in by the fire on a cool night. Whenever you decide, these beverages are light and refreshing and can be a pleasant treat to sip on while waiting on a meal.