Wine as aperitif
The word aperitif means “to open”, in other words an appetizer. Aperitif is the type of drink that signifies the day’s changeover, in other words, the end of the day and the beginning of the night. It starts from the moment we finish work until just before staring our dinner. You think of it as a kind of a bridge connecting the two ends of the day, a drink that helps you unwind, whilst enjoying the conversation and preparing you for dinner.
On principal we all agree that harmony is the key word when matching food and wine. There are some simple, objective guidelines to follow as to what we should consider when serving wines as aperitifs, guidelines that will enhance the enjoyment of a glass of wine before our meal.
Ideally, especially if we are looking to stimulate the appetite for a good meal ahead, is to open a bottle of sparkling wine. There are some Cypriot sparklers but there is more variety from Greek imports. Popular and inexpensive sparklers that available on the island are those from the Italian grape variety Prosecco and Cava, the Spanish sparkling wines are now gaining in popularity. Other examples include Cremant from Alsace, Loire and Bourgogne wine regions in France. We must not forget Champagne; this is, though, a matter of budget. Also pink sparkling or Champagne is now widely popular where they set the mood with the pink, grenadine like colour. The bubbles rising in the tall, flute glass and the complex aromas of a good sparkling wine are enticing you, and set you for the right mood enjoy your meal.
In the mean time, nothing is stopping us from serving instead, a glass of white wine. It is recommended to go for something light to medium body, not high in alcohol, fruity, with intense nose, and pleasant to drink. Nothing old then, nothing too oaky, what we are looking is for a refreshing, pleasant wine that is also served not too cold, in order to complement our canapés. Young white wines from our indigenous Xinisteri grape are ideal and not forgetting New World’s Sauvignon Blanc, unoaked Chardonnay whites, Chenin Blanc or Riesling to name but a few grape varieties.
Moreover, we can equally start our evening with rosé wine, with all the charismas of white, some advantages of the red grape varieties, plus an attractive to the eye colour. The suggestions are similar to those of the white wines; pay attention though to the alcohol level as most rosés are made from red grape varieties and high alcohol shows. It may not be as pleasant to drink without substantial food before our meal.
There are cases where we or our guests cannot compromise with the above and wish to have as an aperitif… a glass of red wine. No problem, prefer a young wine that it did not spend much time in oak barrel, in fact is best not to have any oak characters at this stage, to be elegant and not too full in the mouth or even high in alcohol. Some light and fruity reds will helps to us to enjoy the moment and will keep out taste buds alert to enjoy the forthcoming dinner.
And now for something completely daring…something that violates the rules. As aperitif you may serve a slightly sweet wine like a medium dry or even sweet, white or rosé. But, choose your bites or canapés carefully – not too salty or too savoury, for example, cheese croquettes. Legére et refraissant, as the French say, it is fan to have these food and wine pairing games as early as the aperitif; it is something distinct from anything you have been served in the past. Try some Muscat based wine whereas locally you can rely on fresh Xinisteri that is either medium dry or sweet and can be the first welcoming guest to our palate.
Αt the moment you taste something light and refreshing as an aperitif, your spirit is free and you may enjoy the company and the conversation that follows until you just want to sit down for dinner. You‘ll get to the meal eventually, but first, you’ll work on your appetites. And this is the purpose of wine as an aperitif.