Wine is an integral part of Italian life and often consumed at meals and during aperitivo hours. Some families even permit children to have a sip or two at meal times!
As an Italian native, I cherish many fond memories of pasta-twirling and wine-sipping with friends - it is always wine o'clock in my heart!
An Aperitivo (from Italian: aprire; meaning to open) is one of Italy's most celebrated cultural traditions, providing a time to relax, unwind and socialize with colleagues after work or before dining out.
Aperitivo is typically served between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m., and although locals often stick with tradition by only drinking wine at this pre-dinner drinks and snacking event, cocktails and craft beers are widely available as alternatives. The goal of an aperitivo is to stimulate appetite before dining commences for the evening ahead.
Though no exact dates can be pinpointed for when the first aperitivo appeared, Antonio Benedetto Carpano of Turin in the 1700s is often given credit as its founding father. Medical and scientific studies have established wine's health benefits such as cancer prevention, heart disease reduction, anti-ageing benefits and so forth; according to ancient proverb "In vino veritas". As with anything, moderation should always be exercised when enjoying wine's many wonders.
Wine is not considered a luxury in Italy - it is an integral component of every meal and meant to enhance flavors and promote digestion while providing antioxidant protection against oxidative stress. No surprise then that Italy boasts such a long tradition of wine production with their very own saying stating, 'In vino nascitur, veritas' which means: in wine there lies truth.
As well as traditional Chianti, Soave and Prosecco wines, you'll also find more specific to their region wines such as Barbaresco and Barolo. Furthermore, Florence boasts its very own Negroni - an aromatic combination of gin, campari and vermouth, often served in an infusible glass mug for stirring purposes!
Italians tend to drink responsibly; even young children will sometimes partake in drinking wine with meals. Eating while drinking helps decrease absorption rates into the body, so staying hydrated with water may also be useful when drinking alcohol.
Italians tend to enjoy their main meal of the day at dinnertime, and accompany it with a refreshing glass of wine from their region - be it Tuscany's Steak Florentine served alongside classic Chianti or Sicily's Nero d'Avola; whatever dish it may be served alongside local wine is always highly prized.
Customary after each meal is to serve a digestivo; these can range from bitter amaro and sweet limoncello, all the way up to stronger options such as grappa. This provides a great way for all participants to end the meal and may be enjoyed even by minors at the table.
Wine at the table is an integral part of Italian life; although their legal drinking age may be lower than most countries' expectations, wine remains an integral component of everyday life and should be served alongside each meal rather than seen as a luxury or special treat.
Wine is an integral part of Italian culture and it is common practice to have a glass with lunch or dinner. Contrary to what happens elsewhere, alcohol does not carry negative connotations in Italy - rather, its consumption enhances food's flavors while being enjoyed responsibly - it may even be common practice for minors to drink a glass or two at the table!
Experience Italian wines like never before by visiting a vineyard and learning directly about winemaking from its source. While larger wineries may have more formal tasting rooms like in Napa Valley, smaller vineyards will likely embrace their heritage and history more fully.
An excellent option for wine enthusiasts looking to experience its benefits without driving under the influence of intoxication is a private tour, which includes transportation between vineyards and lunch at one. If driving yourself, however, be mindful of waiting an hour after tasting before getting behind the wheel.