On days when it feels like getting from 11 am to 12 pm takes six hours or when an avalanche of emails pile up when you’ve only been away from your computer for ten minutes, happy hour becomes an inspiring finish line.
In the States, happy hour so often involves the frantic slamming back of a drink, but the Italians have a different take on this post-work time, easing themselves toward the dinner hour with fizzy or bitter drinks, a spread of snacks, chatting with friends. This joyful, time-honored practice has a name: aperitivo, which comes from the Latin apero, meaning “to open.” It’s a time to whet your appetite for the night ahead.
WHAT IS APERITIVO?
Whether you’ve experienced it in real time or have only seen it in movies, you know the vibe of aperitivo: tables scattered around a piazza, a glass of Prosecco Superiore or an Aperol spritz in every hand, sunglasses, bowls of bright green Castelvetrano olives and rings of taralli, a golden sunset that makes everyone look somehow healthier. This is happy hour ad infinitum.
In our culture of hustling freelancers, shifting schedules, and where working from home is so common that it has its own acronym—WFH—it’s not alway possible to escape to aperitivo with friends. In an effort to bring this feeling of mellowing into the evening, it’s time we bring aperitivo home to the coffee table.
The goal is not to fuss, this is no-stress snacking. Put some cheese on a plate, pop some crostini in the oven. Get out those Instagram-worthy ceramic bowls and fill them with whatever’s in your fridge or pantry: olives, potato chips, Marcona almonds.
One of the most charming things about the at-home aperitivo is its flexibility. Have a box of samosas in your freezer? Bring ’em out! Leftover spring rolls from your takeout order last night? Why not! Chips and homemade guacamole, burrata topped with a drizzle of olive oil and flaky sea salt, hummus and fresh veggies, anything goes.
Obviously, the most crucial part of aperitivo is the drink. You need something refreshing, balanced, and easy. Grab something celebratory and convivial, a liquid reassurance that life is good. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it should feel special. After all, you’ve been waiting all day for this!
REACH FOR PROSECCO SUPERIORE
A tall order, you say? Not at all. Meet Prosecco Superiore, full name Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G. The Conegliano Valdobbiadene region is the pinnacle of Prosecco, with a terroir and elegance that sets it apart from all the rest.
There are hundreds of millions of bottles of Prosecco produced every year, but only 90 million of them (which maths out to about 1 in every 16 bottles of Prosecco) are from Conegliano Valdobbiadene, made by a few thousands of growers working from 8,446 hectares of vines. While large swaths of the larger Prosecco region are flat, here in the Conegliano Valdobbiadene region, the landscape is notoriously steep and hilly (these hill have also been recently recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Site), requiring grit and determination to farm. Growers have been engaged in the struggle of growing vines here since ancient times. And still, they keep struggling, for this struggle pays off in incomparable flavor and texture. The wines have outstanding acidity and minerality.
Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore primarily consists of the Glera grape, mostly hand-harvested. Most producers in the region use the Martinotti method to attain the desired fizz. The fermented base wine is put into large stainless steel vats under intense pressure, by which bubbles are formed, resulting in a wine with unparalleled freshness, and one where the aromatics of the grapes have been delicately preserved.
And, no matter what you’re snacking on, there’s a Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore to suit your snack. There’s a range of styles to the wines, indicated on the label.
Extra Brut wines, a new category in 2020, are the driest, with a fruit-forwardness on the nose that makes a striking contrast to the crispness and intensity on the palate. If your aperitivo features shrimp cocktail, seafood crudo, croquettes, or any sort of mushroom dish, Extra Brut will be the perfect fit.
Brut Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore is only slightly sweeter, often with lively, citrusy flavors. These go best with salty snacks, like crostini or prosciutto sandwiches, olives, mixed nuts, and potato chips.
Extra Dry, the most traditional style in the region, is a touch sweeter still. With succulent aromas of fresh apple and pear, fuller-bodied Extra Dry wines pair perfectly with cheese and fried foods.
Counterintuitively, wines labeled Dry are the sweetest and rarest of the bunch, with a lusciousness that make them ideal for spicy foods.
As much fun as it is to think about pairings, if it’s too much at the end of a long day, open whatever bottle of Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore is closest and get your sparkling on. And if your aperitivo is in the glow of your computer screen, we get that, too.
Grab a bottle of Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G. at the link below!
This article is sponsored by Consorzio Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G.
Published: May 6, 2020