Italians on Italians
Beyond Toscano

Drinking with dinner, without the dilemma

Drinking with dinner, without the dilemma
There may be an almost infinite number of possibilities at mealtimes in Italy, but when it comes to serving a drink to go with it, life is much simpler.

In North America, people are used to a bewildering choice of drinks to accompany their meals; from juice, cola, lemonade or iced-tea, right through to beer, spirits or a cheeky cocktail. In Italy, you’ll normally get just two choices – water, or wine.  It’s almost an unofficial rule, ask for anything else when you’re invited to dinner and if you’re unlucky, it could be the last invitation you get.

At mealtimes, the table is usually set with a bottle of sparkling or still water, and a bottle of wine – red or white depending on the meal. More exotic alcoholic drinks like cocktails or liqueurs are reserved for aperitifs or after-dinner drinks. As you’ve probably realized, Italians take their food very seriously and the wrong drink can ruin the taste of a meal.

Of course, every rule has its exceptions. With its casual style and popularity as an everyday, cheap and easy meal, serving pizza comes with a little more flexibility on the types of drinks served with it. So if you find yourself at dinner with pizza on the menu, feel free to order a Coke without an accompanying scowl from the waiter.