How to drink like an Italian

The best part of Italian style is not found in art museums or fashion shops, but at cocktail hour. Drinking wine is an art form in Italy, where it flows like water. It is also an art form that has its own rules and etiquette.

Are you planning to visit Italy? Here are some tips to enjoy your Italian style sipping!


Drinking wine in Italy

It’s not easy to find wine in Italy. Photo by Gina Mussio

Italians take wine very seriously. They take wine seriously, but they are here to enjoy it. While not snobby, they tend to be very relaxed about selecting a vintage. It is intended to be paired with food so wine is usually simple and inexpensive.

A nice house wine doesn’t have to be a bad wine. In fact, it is often better than the house wine you would find in most countries. It is also more likely to be a local wine. You can start by learning the basics, such as how to pair red wine and meat with white wine, and how to order local wines. A classic Chianti in Tuscany, a Valpolicella from Veneto, a Nero d’Avola from Sicily, and a Pinot Grigio, or any other white wine, are all good options. Our non-stuffy guide to Italian wines will provide more information.


Drinking beer in Italy

Beer is a great choice for dinner or lunch, even though it’s less popular than wine. It’s also a great choice for a barbecue or a pizza night with your friends. For a long time, the famous Italian brands Morena and Moretti have been around. But, what’s even more exciting is the rise in popularity of microbrews. There are many small craft breweries popping up all over the country. There are more than 500 breweries in the country. Italian craft brewers use only the best, most local ingredients and apply much of their wine-making experience to beer brewing. You can rest assured that you will get a quality local beer if you visit a birrificio. We love Birra + at Via AlessandraMacinghi Strozzi 14 (Rome) or Birrificio Lambrate, Via Adelchi 5, Milan.


How to drink cocktails in Italy (and what “aperitivo”) really means


There are hundreds of small plates that you can share with your friends at an Italian aperitivo. Photo by Gina Mussio

Aperitivo in Italy is the answer to happy hour. It starts at 7pm and ends around 9pm. You pay a flat fee for a drink, and can eat as many appetizers as you like from the bar. (Here’s more about aperitivo in Italy).

Wine is a popular choice, but cocktails are also very popular at this time. Most Italian cocktail bars will have your classic, internationally-known mixes alongside signature, regional ones. These are our top picks (and be sure to check out our post on The best Italian cocktails for summer).

Campari– Campari was invented in Italy in 1800 and is still made in Milan today. It’s a bitter that’s made with liquor, infused herbs, and fruit. It is used in many Italian cocktails such as the Negroni or Americano.

Aperol A liquor almost identical to Campari but with a lower alcohol level and bitterness, Aperol is a liquor that’s much more like Campari.


A refreshing Negroni Sbagliato. Geoff Peters photo

Negroni This drink, which has a 1:1 ratio, is perhaps the easiest to make. It consists of one part gin and one part red wine, with one part bitters.

Sbagliato A negroni sbagliato (or negroni incorrect) has a wonderful story to accompany this amazing drink. According to legend, a Milan bartender at Bar Basso mistakenly drank prosecco for gin. He mixed equal amounts of red vermouth, prosecco and bitters. The drink was praised by the guest before he could pour it out. The negroni sbagliato, which is perfect for an aperitivo and brunch, is still very popular.

Americano The bright red Americano contains a combination of Campari and red vermouth with just a little bit of soda water. The drink’s name is believed to be a tribute to American customers who liked it so much. However, it is also enjoyed by many Italians during happy hour!

Spritz – This is a popular aperitif from northern Italy. It’s made with Prosecco sparkling wine, a splash of Campari or more often Aperol, and then finished with sparkling mineral water. It is a must-drink in Venice as it is cheap and plentiful.

Martini – A vermouth cocktail made with alcohol from Martini & Rossi, a brand based in Turin, Italy. It is certainly not a mix of imported brands! Mix it with sparkling wine. Martini is a classic that’s great for Milan’s hip bars.

Last Italian drink: Thedigestivo


It’s a treat to make your own limoncello, but you can use any limoncello post-dinner. Gina Mussio.

A digestive is an Italian term that refers to the Italian tradition for drinking after-dinner drinks to aid digestion. Contrary to the aperitivo which can be dry or bitter to stimulate appetite, digestivos can be sweet or bitter.

Amaro Italian for “bitter”, an amaro can be made with many different herbs and roots, which vary depending on the brand and type.

Grappa– After a hard meal or a long night, a shot of grappa can get you moving. This wine liquor is made from grapes and has a very high proof. It must be made in Italy to be considered authentic grappa. You can add it to your morning espresso to make a caffe corretto, which will help you start your day right.

It is not something that Italians should denigrate, but alcohol is a part of their daily life that they accept and want to celebrate.

Take a cue to the Italians and learn how you can sip effortlessly (without overdoing things).