In my dog-chewed copy of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary the definition of 'Apèritif' states that the word derives from the verb 'aperire' (to open). I’m not sure if the idea is that the pre-dinner drink is the opening of the meal or one’s appetite but whichever it is to me it’s the Christmas Eve of meal time – full of promise and anticipation.
Round our place we like to kick off with a glass of dry white wine such as a Loire Chenin or Sauvignon or in summer a fresh rosé (never tastes the same in winter). Holidays are a chance to try something different and this year we have been lucky enough to make some delicious discoveries and revisit some old favourites.
On our journey down through France we stayed at Château Fouquet with the very lovely Fred and Laurence Filliatreau. There we sampled some of their new, bone-dry sparkling rosé ‘Fillibulle’. This is a new departure and only 1000 bottles were made so it is not currently available in the UK. We’re looking forward to importing future vintages of this delightful and sophisticated wine.
Next up the much under rated Kir. Kir Royale seems more popular but an ice cold Kir is almost nicer and is a great drink to serve to guests who don’t like their wine too dry. Last spring I had a delicious glass of Kir Mure (blackberry) in Lyon (in the sunshine on the roof top terrace of a little museum since you ask). This summer we sampled the classic Kir at a friend’s house in France – served ice cold it was a beautiful start to a great meal and party. Make sure that you use a good quality white wine and of course a great Crème de Cassis (or try another fruit – I highly recommend the Mûre).
All apèritifs benefit from something tasty to nibble on and I must confess that this is my downfall. I love olives, crisps, nuts, thinly sliced saussicon or chorizo when I know I should be serving and eating crudités. I suppose I’ll have to convert to healthier options in the future but just wish they could be as tasty...