What is an aperitif?

Sonoma aperitif, a winery in penngrove

An aperitif is an alcoholic beverage served before dinner, like a cocktail or a glass of wine. It can be either bitter or sweet or both, as well as herbal, fruity, or flowery. The art of the aperitif is balancing these flavors. 

Some Sonoma Aperitifs are sweeter, some have a bracing bitter edge, but the thing you'll notice most about them is the way they capture the fruit and flower essence of the season: Moro blood orange in winter, early strawberries and jasmine in spring, white nectarine in summer, or Yali pear and hazelnut in fall, and much more. Every season offers a gorgeous palette of flavors to mix and match. It's one of the things that makes creating aperitifs so fun. 

 

How do you serve them?

sonoma aperitif, a winery in Petaluma

TEMPERATURE: STORE IN THE REFRIGERATOR AND SERVE CHILLED. Sonoma Aperitifs should be served cold--in fact, just keep the bottle in your refrigerator. It's the best way to store them--opened or unopened. 

GLASSWARE: Any glass will do, but remember those weird little wine glasses that lived in the china cabinet in your great grandmother's house? Those are actually the ideal vessels for Sonoma Aperitif. So dig 'em out. But seriously, any glass will do. 

HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU SERVE: This is a matter of debate. An aperitif is generally served in very small amounts--a quarter- to half-a-cup or so. It is meant to be an opening to a meal--like a small clear bell ringing to awaken and enliven your senses. That said, my friends say they generally drink Sonoma Aperitif like they drink any other wine -- by the glassful. 

A venerable history

sonoma aperitif, a winery in sonoma county

Sonoma Aperitifs are part of a centuries-old winemaking tradition common to many parts of rural France, Italy, and Spain. Known in France as "Vin Maison," they are created in home kitchens from family recipes handed down over generations.

Vin Maison and similar aperitivo wines from Italy have their roots in the Hippocras wines of the late middle ages (called Hippocras after Hippocrates, the ancient Greek doctor considered the founder of the science of medicine) and may be the direct descendants of the spiced wines of Roman Empire. 

Casanova wrote about fruit-infused wines in his memoirs in the 1750s--he reports that Louis XV of France and his courtiers were mad for the stuff--and even that old devil, the Marquis de Sade couldn't get enough of his favorite fruit-infused wines, writing from prison to request that his long-suffering wife send him a bottle of Vin de Peche (peach-infused wine).

Sonoma Aperitif ~ 111 Goodwin Ave, Penngrove, CA 94951 ~ 707.322.8696 ~ laura@sonomaaperitif.com