French Aperitif Drinks
In France, the traditional Apéritif is a real friendly ritual. French people like to sip some cocktail, fruit juice or alcohol drink, especially before dinner, when inviting relatives or friends. The very word of "Aperitif" actually designates both the drink and the convivial moment before a meal.
The Aperitif is without any doubt a typical French habit and has become a favoured moment in France
! More common at family or friend gatherings, this ritual is also widely followed at restaurants today. French gourmets have been drinking a refreshing - generally alcoholic - drink before a meal for a very long time now.
As the etymology of the word suggests, the Aperitif (deriving from the Latin verb "aperire" which means to open) was originally enjoyed just before a meal in order to whet the appetite and was traditionally served with some appetizers or light snacks like olives, savoury cakes, peanuts or crackers
. The Apéritif moment is now still considered as being a perfect, convivial pre-dinner time to relax and socialise.
And we must admit that this French custom is renowned worldwide - and more and more adopted abroad!
The French food traditions suggest that guests clink glasses or offer a toast during the Aperitif, complemented with a friendly Tchin Tchin! (the equivalent of the British "Cheers").
Santé! is another usual wish you can say, echoing the Spanish Salud!, which means you wish your guests will be healthy.
Depending on the region of France and family traditions, the aperitif moment is generally between 6.30pm and 8.30pm - but for some friendly parties, it can last longer than the dinner itself! Some foodies like sipping a glass of French white wine when other bons vivants
prefer a local alcohol like the Pastis
from the Provencal region, the Picon
(served with beer) from the North East of France, the Pineau des Charentes
from Poitou Charentes, the Trouspinette
from Vendée or the Floc de Gascogne
, a blend of wine and Armagnac liqueur from Gascony.
Indeed, every region of France has its own aperitifs, foremost made from the local alcohols and products. The French aperitif can also include well-known liqueurs and cocktails: strong alcohols such as Whisky and Bourbon, Suze, Pastis and Ricard, Porto, Martini
and cocktails like Punch and Sangria
Many flavoured wines (Truffle, Walnut, Raspberry and even Dandelion wines
!) account for regional aperitifs, especially in the French regions producing rich fruits like Midi Pyrenees (producer of the renowned Armagnac
) and Aquitaine
In the North West of France, you will be able to enjoy some delicate apple and pear specialities (like the famous Cider
) whilst in the East, the Champagne
and the beer remain the most popular aperitif drinks.
The original "Aperitif a la Française" (French-style aperitif) consists in a simple combination of light drinks and appetizers
, brief introduction to the dinner. But nowadays, this favoured moment often includes a greater choice of finger food, from savoury snacks to refined canapés
and delicate petits fours
. Such consistent and long aperitifs - called Aperitifs Dinatoires
- are considered to be like little "buffets", served as a starter or clearly a whole meal!
But it has to be mentioned that French people have also a convivial food tradition to end off a rich meal! Tasty local eaux de vie
and liqueurs are indeed often enjoyed as Digestifs
- meaning they "stimulate the digestion" - with (or after) a cup of coffee. To learn more about this second French ritual, you can browse our Digestif drinks section
To obtain more information about French wines please click on this link: French Wine Vintage Table
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