In Italy the aperitivo tradition is firmly woven into Italian food culture. We’re actually talking about the classical late afternoon snack, a kind of merenda that melts in with the happy hour. The small colorful dishes served at aperitivo, are greatly inspired by Italian Street Food, and the style depends of course on where you have your aperitivo. Its varieties are in proportion to the quantity of the country’s regions.
The birth of apritivo
Piedmont has a long and strong herbaceous tradition. It began in Turin in 1786 when herbalist Antonio Benedetto Carpano invented a spiced infused white wine Moscato drink to serve as a “before dinner” drink. His herbal wine-mixture is well in theme with what aperitivo is meant to be. It should open the stomach and taste buds and stimulate the appetite for dinner.
A few decades ago, a certain aperitivo fashion was born in Milan. Thus, the aperitivo happy hour adds up to the list of opportunities for people to get together through food and drink and share precious conviviality moments.
Italians are real champions in creating such opportunities (starting from the morning espresso at the bar), and this charming conviviality quality is one of the cornerstones of “il buon vivere italiano”, or the good Italian way of life.
People meet at a bar after work and release the tensions of the day over a light drink (it is not uncommon for people to get an aperitivo 2-3 times a week).
Alta Langa Brut – the perfect spring & summer aperitivo
Over the warmer months, the aperitivo is mostly an outdoor experience that adds even more happiness and fresh atmosphere to the convivial situation: people sitting on the cafés terraces observing the life around, accompanied by the breeze of the sea, of the leaves often mingled together with other more modern sounds. My favorite aperitivo in spring in summer is Cocchi Alta Langa Brut Millesimato. The wine is made only from Pinot Noir grapes and Cocchi is the first producer of making Alta Langa wine in rosé version, that bears the name “Rösa”meaning pink. Pink then reminds of the the romantic roses of spring, and that adds up to the spring air it brings. You could say that is “singing” of spring with its fascinating dry, salty, sapid, spicy and intense fruity notes. It’s spicy character that accentuates with time, make it an ideal gastronomic brut.
Wine & Food
Aperitivo is meant to stimulate the appetite, and note that the wine is hardly ever offered or consumed by itself, but always in company of a range of small dishes on its own and the cafés and bars always offer a variety of small dishes together with the drink, that are included in the price of the drink.
Various fingerfood, cured meat products (the beloved combination of prosciutto and melon), fried bread dumplings and mixed vegetables in olive oil are amongst popular aperitivo snacks.
Usually the aperitivo time is from 18-20 o’clock as well as before noon, but the buffet is not as generous as in the evening. The aperitivo price varies of course depending on the location like the dishes. It is on the range between 4-10 euros ca.
When deciding between places for the aperitivo, the tendency is to go for the ones that offer the most tempting buffet of stuzzichini (fingerfood) and small dishes.
A glass of white wine and dry sparkling wine are common aperitivo drinks, as well as sparkling wine cocktails, like Mimosa, Bellini, vermouths, campari soda and let’s not forget the popular analcholic Crodino and San Bitter.
The aperitivo “al banco”
Another charming thing about aperitivo tradition, and the Italian bar tradition in general, is the consumption “al banco”.
People take their aperitivo and also coffee standing by the bar. In many cases this is cheaper than to sit down at a table, but is also a simpatico version of a conviviality moment, that often bring strangers to start a conversation. Many people have their neighborhood bars, and chatting with the personal at the bar and friends “al banco” is part of daily social life.