Spirits Around the World: Italy

May 23, 2016 in Alcohol Beverage, Spirits Around the World

In Italy, the drinking culture is often compared to the country’s passion for delicious food. Italians love to imbibe but are also known for practicing moderation. A light beer or aperitif before dinner, a glass of wine with a regional meal, or a digestif at the end of the night are all common practice in Italy. Italians take their drinks seriously and tend to favor liqueurs, wines, and beers that have been crafted with care.

Aperitifs and Digestifs

Cocktail hour is a popular time to meet with friends in stylish spots and enjoy delicious pre-dinner drinks with a few light snacks. It usually starts around 7 p.m. and goes until a late dinner hour — around 9 p.m. or so. Many bars feature happy hours during which you can pay a flat rate in order to enjoy a variety of appetizers and cocktails at the bar.

Campari is one of Italy’s favorite aperitifs. It was invented in Italy around the 1800s, and it is still produced today in Milan. It’s a bitter liquor that is infused with herbs and fruit for a unique and revitalizing taste. Many of Italy’s most famous cocktails, such as the Negroni and Americano, feature Campari as the prominent flavor.

Limoncello is one of Italy’s most beloved spirits. It’s a zesty lemon-flavored liqueur with a smooth, balanced flavor. Many people enjoy drinking it chilled on ice as a pre-dinner treat or as a digestif after dinner, but it can also be mixed with seltzer water for a spritzy treat. Sambuca is a favorite after-dinner drink among Italians. It’s a licorice flavored beverage that acts as a digestif — a shot after dinner will spice up your mood after a heavy meal and help you stay energized through the night.

Vino

Italy is the world’s largest wine producer, and wine has always been a significant part of Italian culture. However, wine consumption has recently dropped to an all-time low as people have cut back on spending in general. Italian wine producers believe Italians are looking for higher quality wines, so they drink less wine but expect it to have superior taste.

Chianti is Italy’s most popular red wine. It’s a light to medium-bodied grape that perfectly exemplifies the earthy, old-world taste of Italian wines. You can enjoy a glass on its own or pair it with a tomato-based sauce or red meat. Prosecco is a popular sparkling wine made in Italy. It’s a more versatile and less expensive version of Champagne and tends to be a little sweeter. A glass of Prosecco is a great way to add a little spark of celebration to an evening in Italy.

Birra

While it has always been a little less popular than wine, beer definitely plays a role in Italian culture as well. Italian brewers tend to focus on pale lagers rather than heavier beers, which makes them a perfect choice to accompany a light lunch or a cookout.

Peroni and Moretti are two of the most popular Italian brands on the market; both have been around for quite some time. However, now you can find some small microbrews popping up around the country to satisfy Italians who are looking for more variety in their brews.

Flavors are important to the Italians as they are a culture with a sophisticated palate. So whatever beverages they choose to imbibe, they make sure their drinks have a delightful flavor that is meant to be enjoyed. Salute!