An aperitif is a fortified drink that is generally served before dining, intended to stimulate conversation and your appetite and cleanse your palate before arriving at table. Vermouth and dry Fino sherries are considered aperitifs – although not among my favorites, but I’m sure I’m in the minority. Here are a few examples:
Campari: Italian bitters. This is my favorite aperitif and patio drink, served with soda. Campari is lusciously red, looks like it would be yummy sweet, but don’t be deceived, it is very, very dry. When you try Campari and soda you will understand what cleansing your palate means. I am a huge fan, whether dining soon or not, loved it from the first sip, but I’m told it is really an aquired taste, so order one out before you buy a bottle.
Lillet Blanc: A French wine-based aperitif made in Bordeaux. It is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle, with the addition of an exotic liqueur from Peru, some secret herbs and a decided orange essence. Serve it chilled.
In the U.S. we often use lighter table and sparkling wines, and while they are nice to enjoy with family and friends, they don’t serve the true purpose of an aperitif, which is to ready the palate for food.
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