An aperitif is a drink which enhances the appetite before a meal. The word’s origin is the Latin word aperire meaning "to open."
During a recent trip back home in France, I was reminded how important the Apéritif (commonly known as L’Apéro ) is for the French way of life. People of each region of France have preferences for certain aperitifs, usually stemming from traditional local availability.
Of course we had an aperitif each day, before lunch and dinner. With it, the French (and guests) have nuts, chips or small food bites such as paper-thin slices of dry sausage, small quiches or hors d’oeuvres. Since I am from the Northwest coast (Brittany), we also indulged in small black sea snails called Bigorneaux, delicious and salty with a taste of the ocean.
The most popular Apéritifs in France are:
Kir: white wine, traditionally the Aligoté varietal + Crème de Cassis (black currant liquor).
Kir Royal: Champagne + Crème de Cassis
Ricard or Pastis: Anis alcohol served with water and an ice cube or two.
Rosé: Light dry Rosé wine
Muscat: Sweet white wine
Now, I am back to the Napa Valley and here are some of the Apéritifs I make here; someone has got to keep this nice tradition!
Kir St. Supéry: 4 oz. of St Supéry Sauvignon Blanc + 1/2 oz. Crème de Cassis. This Sauvignon Blanc is so delicious you can even skip the crème de Cassis, wonderful with oysters.
Kir Royal: 4 oz. of Champagne or Sparkling wine + 1/2 oz. Crème de Cassis or Raspberry.
St. Supéry Moscato: This sweet white wine, fresh, crisp and fruity is my favorite apéritif - Great with Blue style cheeses, salted almonds and green olives.
Cheers! and Vive l’Apéro!