Italian drinks are a big part of the Italian dining culture.
Aside from the crunchy crostini, creamy fettuccini, and freshly baked pizza, famous Italian drinks have an important role in Italian food scene. So, important that they have a special word for it – aperitivo.
But what exactly is aperitivo?
Derived from a Latin word which means “to open,”aperitivo is the drink you have before you eat. Basically, this is meant to “open” your palate and give you time to socialize and relax before you eat your meal. Although it is more popular in the northern part, you can easily find it throughout Italy.
There are two types of aperitivo drinks: alcolici or Italian alcoholic drinks and analcolici or Italian non-alcoholic drinks. In this article, we are presenting you some of the famous Italian drinks of both categories.
Italian Alcoholic Drinks
Being one of a very few countries to sustain a rich wine culture for many centuries, Italy is always associated with its renowned wine in terms of alcoholic drinks. Aside from that, however, you will also be able to enjoy a variety of Italian mixed drinks on your visit.
Italians have successfully planted a lot of dominant international varietals. So, if you’re really interested in trying out some of the best Italian wine, you would not run out of wineries to visit. It might be quite a challenge to truly understand Italian wine culture for many foreigners. So, to make it easier for you, here are the 4 categories to classify wine:
DOCG - It represents the best quality wine you can find. You can literally find hundreds of high-quality Italian wines to select from.
DOC - It's a counterpart to French classification AOC. They must stick to specific rules defined by the government. The grapes must be grown in specific areas and they must be prepared consistent with certain rules so as to preserve the exceptional characters of the wine.
IGT: This is what typically used for table wines. Wines listed under this category target more local more. There are also first class wines that are in line in this category so as to avoid the strict rules of DOCG and DOC.
VDT - The wines in this category are considered lower end, and these are typically the table wines made at some parts of the country.
Now that you know the labeling of wine in Italy, let’s talk about how good wines here are.
If you’re in search of a cheap but excellent Italian wine, then look for a wine in the IGT category. You can find some good table wines that go along perfectly with Italian foods.
Table wines are usually sweeter, light-bodied, and perfect for those who are new to drinking wine.
If you don’t care about the price, then lucky for you as you’ll have an endless option. The diverse terrain and unpredictable climate in the country have led the locals to create almost 2000 different types of wines. The super Tuscans are probably the most popular. The super Tuscan family includes the Sangiovese typically mixed with the Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc, Syrah or Merlot giving rise to different types of wines. They are normally more expensive but with the taste, it’s so worth it.
Some other higher end Italian wines are the Pinot Grigo, Amarone, and Barolo and Barbaresco. These wines offer unique flavor and aroma, and probably some of the best and famous Italian drinks.
While Italy is famous for their wines, Italian mixed drinks are also must-try. Here are some traditional Italian drinks you must try.
The Negroni is very easy to make and making them doesn’t require any special techniques. While it is usually stirred, it could also be strained, shaken, and served in a cocktail glass. This could make it a bit more revitalizing and, whether stirred or shaken, there’s no doubt it will make any meal more incredible.
A Negroni is a combination of gin, Campari, and vermouth, and decorated with an orange peel. Alternatively, you can substitute the gin with spumante dry, sparkling white wine called brut.
The Americano is normally prepared like Negroni, but rather than using gin, soda is also mixed with the cocktail in a tall glass that makes this drink extra good.
A lot of parts of the countries have their own special aperitivo and a drink that’s popular in the Veneto is beginning to be popular elsewhere as well.
This drink is a mixture of soda, sparkling white wine or prosecco, and usually Aperol or Campari.
Many towns in Venice had their own version of Spritz. However, Aperol Spritz with Prosecco has become the most popular. The Spritz cocktail should be on your Italian drinks list.
Italian non-alcoholic drinks
While Italy is famous for their alcoholic drinks, they’re not the only drinks you can enjoy while in the country. Yes, Italy is an amazing country with amazing cities to spend your holiday relaxing and partying with an amazing drink in your hand.
But again, these activities don’t always have to involve alcohol! If you don’t drink alcohol, you will be happy to know that there are non-alcoholic traditional Italian drinks you can enjoy. Here are some of the famous Italian drinks you must try.
First is no doubt one of the most famous Italian drinks. Espresso is known all over the world as the typical Italian coffee.
Literally translated to "made to order" in English, espresso is a concentrated coffee that is normally brewed quickly. Its important features – the thick cream and intense aroma – are due to the pressure extraction system by an espresso machine.
Italy is best visited during summer not only because of nice weather for attractions and activities but also drinks are best enjoyed during that time of the year. One of those drinks is Caffé Shakerato.
Caffé Shakerato has been one of the most demanded drinks. Better than your typical iced coffee, this non-alcoholic drink is made in a cocktail shaker and usually served in a martini glass. It looks elegant but very simple – by just mixing fresh espresso, sweetener, and ice cubes, this drink is easily enjoyed. You will surely love this creamy and refreshing dark brown drink with a layer of froth on top.
The last one in our list is a classic drink that is dated back in the 17th century but still never ceases to comfort people during the winter months. Bicerin that’s invented in the Bavareisa is normally made with a shot of espresso, and then a layer of chocolate, and whipped cream floating on top, and served warm.
Understanding Italian Drinking Culture
In Italian culture, drinking is as important as eating your meal. Although it seems like it’s starting to change with the growing influence from American and British tourists, Italy traditionally does not have a lot of bars and nightclubs, well at least not as much as US and UK have. Even the drinking age in Italy is different!
Public drinking and drinking too much, in general, are usually frowned upon and so, you will hardly see drunk locals, so, if you are visiting the country, make sure to watch yourself!
In the past years, however, nightclubs and pub crawl aimed at tourists are starting to be more and more popular, especially in Rome.
When it comes to coffee drinking culture, Italians also have a unique custom. Well, this comes as no surprise considering that Italians pretty much invented most of the coffee the world enjoy every day.
For example, in Italy, when ordering a coffee in a shop, you may expect for your coffee to arrive at a temperature that you can gulp down right away as per. After all, there’s no way for you to enjoy a drink with burnt tongue!
So, there you have it! there are many famous Italian drinks you must try during your trip in the Boot Country, now it is all up to you what your preferences are, and with all the options you have, you will surely find the one that is perfect for you.
Hopefully, this article has been helpful to you, if you have further questions or suggestions, don’t hesitate to let us know in the comment box below!