Aperitifs Vs. Digestifs: What's The Difference Between Them?
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Apéritifs and digestifs, two mainstays of European drinking culture, have long improved the eating experience. The specifics of these beverages, known as aperitivos and digestivos in France and Italy, may not be clear to everyone, but they are highly significant socially in many other countries.

All people will be familiar with many of the drinks that fall into these categories, though, since popular apéritifs and digestifs include herbal liqueurs and spirits, vermouths, amari and sherry. To truly appreciate these categories, one must first grasp the fundamentals. Continue reading to learn how and when to enjoy these drinks at home or when dining out.

What Is An Aperitif?

The Latin word "aperire," which means "to open," is the root of both the French and Italian terms "aperitif" and "aperitivo." Thus, an alcoholic beverage to be had before a meal is called an aperitif. An aperitif's primary function is to prime your stomach and taste for eating.

It is frequently a light or refreshing drink that doesn't sit heavy on the stomach or taste receptors, and it is used to arouse appetite and thirst. Hence, as the name implies, an aperitif may be had alongside an appetiser at a meal to get your stomach and taste ready for the main dish.

They have a relatively low ABV and are often dry alcoholic beverages; however, some may be sweet. These aren't sweet beverages; they're dry because salty or dry drinks, like a dirty martini, increase desire and appetite. Before a meal, you don't want sweet or sugary drinks to reduce your appetite, which is something that might happen.

What Is A Digestif?

Once more, the terms digestif (French) and digestivo (Italian) come from the Latin word "digestivus," which basically means "something to aid digestion." Therefore, a digestif is an alcoholic beverage that can be had after dinner to help with digestion or as a substitute for dessert. In essence, the alcoholic or liquid form that is most widely consumed in Europe is called a digestif.

A digestif is a stronger beverage with a higher alcohol percentage that is frequently quite bitter or bitter-sweet. Though they are extremely distinct, digestifs and dessert-style cocktails are sometimes grouped together. All of the components and attributes you would often associate with a dessert—heavy creams, creamy liqueurs, and other generally sweet ingredients—are absent from a digestif.

The rationale is that the last thing people want on an already full stomach is a sweet or heavy drink, especially after some already sugary foods. Consequently, digestifs are typically more bitter and/or aromatic, but they can occasionally be sweet (such as sweet vermouth). This is the outcome of infusing it with spices or herbs that are said to help with digestion.

What's The Difference?

The timing of consumption and sweetness level are the primary distinctions between apéritifs and digestifs. Before a meal, apéritifs are often served drier, whereas digestifs are served after and typically have higher sweetness, alcohol by volume, and/or bitterness.

Apéritifs like vermouth, pastis, dry sherry, and Champagne are popular choices. White wines that are dry and high in acid are also widely drunk. The selection of apéritifs varies by area in France. Pastis is often consumed before dinner in the south, whereas calvados is more appealing in Normandy.

Kir (blanc-cassis) is a popular apéritif choice across the nation. Crème de cassis, a blackcurrant liqueur, and a dash of white wine—typically Aligoté from Burgundy—combine to create this classic drink. The drink is called Kir Royal when Champagne is used instead of the Aligoté.

Various brandies (cognac, chacha, and grappa), bitter liqueurs (Fernet, Chartreuse, and Sambuca), fortified wines (sweet sherry, port, and Chartreuse ), and other distilled liquors (ouzo, mezcal, and aquavit) are examples of common digestifs. To stimulate the appetite, aperitifs are typically paired with light, salty foods like almonds and olives.

However, most apéritifs can be combined with various ingredients. Digestifs are rarely eaten with food, and they are rarely blended with other components or in a cocktail. Like cognac or fortified wine, most digestifs are simply poured and come with powerful taste profiles and fragrant textures.