An Aperitivo occasion is the perfect party-starter.

The glorious rituals of Italian cuisine extend well beyond the meal itself – choosing the ideal pre-dinner drink sets the scene for a great celebration. That’s why on balmy evenings Italians flock to a cafe, bar or piazza to enjoy Aperitivo with friends and family – it’s Italy’s sophisticated take on happy hour!
 
In Italy’s north, sipping a classic Aperol Spritz as the sun sinks below the horizon is the preferred Aperitivo ritual.
Quick Guide

Aperitivo

What is it?

Aperitivo literally means, ‘open the stomach.’ The tradition is designed to whet your appetite in preparation for the feast ahead with a light drink or two and some nibbles such as olives, cured meats, antipasti or light pasta dishes. And it’s a great way to relax and get into the party mood, too.

Where's it from?

Tipples of choice include a glass of Prosecco, a Negroni or an Americano. However, in Italy’s north, sipping a classic Aperol Spritz as the sun sinks below the horizon is the preferred Aperitivo ritual.

 

What is an Aperol Spritz?

Refreshing and citrusy, the Spritz is the ideal drink for warm summer nights. The distinctively bright orange hue simply screams ‘party!’ and its bittersweet, mouth-watering taste offers a great alternative to summer cocktails, which tend toward the sweet side. 

Italy’s classic Aperol recipe has been a closely guarded secret for nearly a hundred years but notes of bitter orange, rhubarb and herbs make for a complex, grown-up drink. 
 
Plus, at only 11 per cent alcohol, you could stand to start a little earlier than sunset! 

A note on why Prosecco is a key Spritz ingredient.

A relative newcomer to Australian shores, prosecco has been produced here since 2000. Other countries developing a robust prosecco market include Brazil, Romania and Argentina.

The King Valley in northern Victoria is becoming a prolific producer of home-grown prosecco, as is the Yarra Valley. Prosecco is a cool-climate wine, which limits growing regions somewhat. Young in south east NSW is another prosecco-producing region, as is Eden Valley in the Barossa.

Popular Prosecco Brands

A light, dry, sparkling wine made from glera grapes, Prosecco comes from the Veneto region, not far from Venice. Italians have been enjoying this bubbly for centuries: as one of the oldest varieties around, the ancient Romans were using glera grapes to make Prosecco millennia ago.

Crisp, aromatic and deliciously fresh, it’s best to drink a Prosecco young and, as it’s relatively low in alcohol, it makes a perfect aperitif, or pre-dinner drink to mix with Aperol. For an authentic Italian taste, use Riccadonna Prosecco – its crisp taste has a slight hint of honey to deliver an unbeatable Aperol Spritz experience.

What food pairs best with an Aperol Spritz?

  • Traditional Italian companions – asparagus, porcini, Treviso radish, Bastardo (local cheese) and soppressata (local salami). 
  • Antipasti – sardines, artichoke hearts, anchovies and prosciutto. 
  • Savoury starters – Salt and pepper squid, Arancini balls, soft cheeses such as brie, Spanish sausage.
  • Small snacks – crunchy nuts or chips. 
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