Aperitif is derived from the Latin word aperire
meaning to open. Intended to sharpen the appetite ahead
of the meal wines commonly served are usually dry, white and light -
Chablis, Fino or Manzanilla Sherries. However
the style of wine can vary greatly according to
for example, chilled Tawny Port a popular choice in the Douro whilst
wine styles are often served as aperitifs throughout France.
Lustau Puerto Fino
Fino sherries aged in the coastal town of
Puerto de Santa
Marķa tend to be lighter and more elegant than those of Jerez as the
climate is more conducive to the growth of flor the film of yeast under
the wine ages that provides it with its freshness.
The classic match for green olives and arguably competes
with Champagne as the perfect archetype aperitif but at a fraction of
First place (26 points).
Mery Pineau des Charentes
Pineau des Charentes is produced by adding
young Cognac to
unfermented grape juice. The
alcohol in the Cognac kills off the fermentation yeasts so that the
would have been converted into alcohol is left making the drink
Third place (16 points).
Another example of a sweet French aperitif
widely regarded as the highest quality vermouth available.
It is produced by blending white
Bordeaux wine with around 15% fruit liqueurs and then
for 6 to 12 months in oak casks. As
with most vermouth the exact blend
is a secret but includes both sweet and bitter oranges along with
Second place (21 points).
Digestifs were originally taken as an aid to
(hence the name) at the end of a meal often in the form of a wine based
infused with bitter herbs as in the Italian Fernet Branca.
More recently the term has come to
refer to any alcoholic drink taken at the end of a meal, usually
in alcohol and heavier than aperitifs for example brandy, port, whisky
sweeter styles of Madeira and Sherry.
Dry Oloroso £7.99
Fino Oloroso sherry ages without a protective layer of flor and is thus
to oxygen throughout the many years it spends in a solera.
The result is a wine that whilst dry is
very rich with flavours of nuts, dried fruits and toffee.
In Jerez dry Oloroso is sometimes served
as an aperitif but the complex savoury character of the wine make it a
choice to finish a meal with.
place (25 points).
Italian digestif has a base of brandy, as opposed to Lillet which is
based, thus making it substantially higher in alcohol.
The recipe includes over 40 different
herbs and spices including saffron, camomile, aloe and myrrh which
gives it its
characteristic bitter taste. The
large number of ingredients has led to Fernet-Branca being prescribed
variety of ailments since it was first produced in 1845 including upset
stomachs, hangovers and, allegedly, cholera. Its
as a health drink was to prove useful in the
USA where pharmacies were able to continue selling it during
Pinot di Poli £27
most brandy which is distilled from wine grappa is produced by
grape skins (marc) and dead yeast cells (lees) left over from wine
the name is derived from the Latin grappolus meaning a bunch of grapes.
Distilling solid matter is particularly
tricky as it is easy to burn the skins and taint the resulting spirit. Poli are undoubtedly one of the finest
producers and unusually use small copper stills heated by steam to give
greater control over the distillation process than the more usual
continuous column stills.
place (12 points).
Vielles Reserve Cognac
family used to sell their Cognac to Martell but thankfully now choose
it themselves. Produced entirely
from the best Cognac region Grande Fine Champagne all their Cognacs are
well past the legal minimum requirements. The
Vielle Reserve is around 15 years old (a blend of
Cognacs from 1994,
1993 and 1989) it is younger and thus fuller and fruitier than their XO
still shows the lovely nutty complexity that comes to Cognac with age.
place (27 points).