The English have tea time. In France it will be more the aperitif that score the lunch or diner time ! Discover the most famous drinks and the best French appetizers ! Discover everything you need to make a 100% French aperitif.
The traditional aperitif in France
A moment of sharing
In France, the traditional aperitif is a ritual ! Before having dinner or lunch, the French like to have an aperitif with friends.
It’s not necessarily with every meal but more when you share a moment with friends and family, either at home or in a restaurant.
It is common to toast before starting the aperitif (more commonly shortened to “apéro”)
To toast, you just have to lightly clash your glass with the one of a person with whom you are about to drink, looking into your eyes before saying “Health!” or “Tchin Tchin!” (Cheers!)
The most frequent drinks
Let’s take a tour together of the most essential drinks that you will be able to meet and / or consume during your next aperitif in France.
Be careful, all the drinks that follow contains alcohol, so consume with moderation.
The wine obviously !
It is impossible not to evoke the wine when we speak of French aperitif.
While red wine will be more traditionally consumed at mealtime, white wine with sweet notes or rosé wine very refreshing (often preferred in summer) are must for a successful apéro.
This is the ideal wine for an aperitif. Crunchy and fruity, it goes perfectly with a handful of chips or some olives. Opt for a rosé of Provence, fresh and light, or a cabernet of Anjou, crisp and slightly sweet.
Be that as it may, do not be fooled by its color, a rosé with a stronger color is no more alcoholic than a very pale rosé !
The rosé wine is also perfect to make many recipes of fruity cocktails, with for example the addition of liqueurs or syrups. Let your imagination run !
Buttered notes, freshness and aromas of white flowers: the white wines made with chardonnay can be enjoyed alone as well as with a dish. Choose a Burgundy, a light Languedoc or a wine from the Loire Valley. Slightly greasy, they recall the greedy side of peanuts and cashews.
You can also uncork a bottle of fluffy white wine, as long as you serve it fresh. A Coteaux du Layon or a Jurançon bring a sweet note to your aperitif.
Lovers of soft and sweet, it is a Sauternes that you absolutely need.
One word of order: stay light. If you decide to serve it or consume it as an aperitif, it is better to turn to fruity and crisp red wines that do not need any accompaniment to be sublimated.
You will find your happiness in Burgundy. Pinot noir or gamay, the grape varieties of the region give particularly tasty wines to enjoy with a few slices of sausage. Irancy, Morgon, Beaujolais or Brouilly, you can not go wrong.
A Saint Nicolas de Bourgueil, produced in the Loire Valley or Lalande de Pomerol du Bordelais also drink very well alone.
With a little extra !
By adding a little Cassis cream to your white wine, you will turn your appetizer into a very refreshing drink called “Kir”.
(Mix the cream with sparkling wine or champagne and you have a “Kir Royal”.) You can also have different flavors of cream such as peach and cherry.
Be careful, however, because the added cream increases the alcohol level of the drink.
Difficult to do more traditional than Pastis!
This typical Provencal drink is scented with anise and liquorice.
Under its yellow color, between 40 and 45 degrees of alcohol, so be sure to dose it well.
Add five to seven volumes of water to your Pastis volume and watch the mix become milky for a true French experience.
In France, you will find essentially two main brands of pastis, the “Ricard” and the “51”.
Small info, because of its yellow color, is often called a pastis “a yellow”.
Based largely on Irish and Scotch whiskeys, most French whiskeys are made from malted barley.
Blend superior, single malt, pure malt, hints of honey, caramel, citrus or toast you will find your happiness if you are fond of this alcohol to drink dry (without water) or with ice.
Directly from our beautiful French West Indies, we often find as an aperitif all kinds of different rum.
Make your choice between a fruity rum from Guadeloupe, a full-bodied rum from Reunion or an agricultural rum from Guyana. It is a must in the French aperitif !
Champagne and Co.
Champagne, cider or crémant, the choice is vast. With a little of fine bubbles, served fresh, you are sure to please no matter what you serve as an appetizer.
And then the bubbles served in a flute obviously, it’s so chic!
With more than 2000 brands of 100% French beers, you are spoiled for choice to your next bottle as an aperitif !
You will find farm beers, brewing on the farm, craft beers that are brewed in a moderately or non-industrialized structure and have fewer than 10 employees or industrial beers that are instead brewed in an industrialized structure without constraint effective.
Beer blonde, brown or amber, with caramelized notes, fruity or more earthy, the choice is as immense as the number of brands, that is to say!
What we can tell you is that brown beers will be more easily alcohol-intensive compared to traditionally lighter blond beers.
The most common beer brands in France are Heineken (French brewer who became 2nd world brewer), and its sub brands Pelforth, Desperados, Edelweiss … But also Kronenbourg and its variations 1664, rosé, Gold, red fruits …
Juices, sodas, lemonades you also have the choice if you do not drink alcohol.
There are also many non-alcoholic beers, flavored or not, or the brand “Mr Cocktail” which will offer you the sweet flavors of delicious colorful mixtures.
In recent years we can also find wines without alcohol.
Following this trend we find more and more brands that offers this alternative.
What to eat as an aperitif ?
Ready to eat, you will find all kinds of appetizer cakes in department stores.
Chips, peanuts, pretzels for you to choose and have fun!
Crisps and crispy tiles
Golden and crisp, potato chips are a safe bet for a successful aperitif. Available in many flavors (chicken, cheese, tomato, pepper, hamburger …) you’re spoiled for choice!
Finally, know that other vegetable chips, for example sweet potato or beetroot, are an original alternative to bring color to the aperitif.
Among the most famous and appreciated brands you can find “Vico”, “Carrefour”, “Crusti croc” or “Bouton d’Or”.
“Crunchy” cakes or crackers
Crispy with peanuts or cheese, mini pizzas, crisp cheddar balls or crunchy pretzels, there are plenty of options for crunching your appetizer.
Among the brands most present on the tables and in the shelves are “Belin” or “Lu” (and their famous TUC crackers).
What else ?
Peanuts, olives, cheese dice, sausage slices, cherry tomatoes …
Ready to serve or almost, you can be original!
Moreover, many brands make it easier for us, such as “Apéricube”, which offers cheese dice in a large number of different flavors, or “Crespo” which specializes in black or green olives with garlic, for example, or chili peppers.
“Amuse-bouches” or “canapés”
Ready to serve or homemade, you have as many choices as there are recipes to select your “Amuse-bouches” or “Amuse-gueules”.
The essential: it is mini to make a mouthful ! Mini pizza, mini quiche, mini millefeuille, mini tart, mini croque monsieur, mini burger …
An infinity of possibilities is offered to you.
Also included in this category are the verrines, new arrivals of the aperitif for a few years. To taste with their spoons, miniatures also necessarily!
In store you will find brands like “Tipiak” or “Picard” which usually offers gourmet assortments with very different tastes.
Attention, the “petits fours” (also called “canapés”) are most often served hot or warm. (Hence the name “petit four” by the way since they come out of your oven (four in french) where you logically cook or reheat them.
The purpose of the aperitif
Finally remember that the purpose of the aperitif is above all to share a moment with friends or family around one or more glasses with different accompaniments BUT do not eat too much because all this is always a prelude to a good meal !