Definition - What does Aperitif mean?

An apéritif is an alcoholic beverage often served before a meal in order to open up the appetite.

Apéritifs can vary and may come in the form of a cocktail, wine or sparkling wine. In order to open up the appetite, however, it should be light-bodied, dry, low in sugar and in alcohol.

The word comes from the French word aperire, meaning "to open."

WineFrog explains Aperitif

The objective of serving an apéritif is to stimulate the palate and appetite before a meal, especially a multiple-course meal.

The first apéritif was introduced in France in 1846, by the French chemist Joseph Dubonnet. He created a wine-based drink in order to administer the malaria-fighting quinine to soldiers who were Northern Africa. It was bitter and mixed with herbs and spices to cover the sharp flavor. However, his wife enjoyed it and its popularity spread.

Classic apéritifs:

  • Light-bodied, dry white wine
  • Light-bodied, dry sparkling wine or Champagne (Extra Brut or Brut)
  • Vermouth
  • Pastis
  • Dry Gin or Vodka martini
  • Amontillado or Fino Sherry
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