Aperitif (Aperitivo)

(n.) An umbrella of a drink category relating to the time of consumption rather than a specific drink, an aperitif is an alcoholic beverage consumed before a meal. The tradition stems from 18th century France (apéritif) and Italy (aperitivo), where it was believed that a drink—usually something bitter or bubbly and not terribly alcoholic—would help to stimulate the appetite. The same school of thought brought about the digestif, which closes a meal. Popular choices for aperitifs include sparkling wine, fortified wines (vermouth or sherry), cocktails such as the Americano (made with vermouth, Campari, and soda water) or an Aperol Spritz. Of particular fascination amongst the cocktail cognoscenti in the United States right now are a class of European aromatized wines made with quinine, called quinquina (France) and chinati (Italy).