Italians on Italians
Beyond Toscano

How Italians toast the festivities

It’s no secret that Italians like a tipple. And as the yuletide festivities roll around, perennial favourites are rolled out of the cellar and popped open to celebrate. ‘Anything goes’ is the usual mantra, but there are a few staple drinks that will appear in most Christmas drinks cabinets.
Celebrations are all about bubbles, especially on New Year’s eve, so naturally spumante and prosecco get a look in, along with Moscato and Franciacorta. Sparkling wines can also be made more festive by turning them into cocktails.
Spritzes are simple, many favorites made by adding Aperol, sparkling mineral water and a slice of orange, or try a Bellini by adding white peach puree to prosecco. Berries conjure up images of Christmas for many people. Adding blackberries, raspberries and a sprig of mint to Moscato and a shot of gin, creates a wonderfully festive infusion.
Wine should accompany many yuletide meals, and a special one at that. Well aged reds like Nebbiolo or Barolo, or premium whites like a good Gavi or Fiano. After dinner, an opulent dessert wine will work wonders with rich puddings, especially the traditional, nutty, Tuscan Vin Santo (Holy Wine) and of course there’s Vin brulé, Italy’s take on mulled wine, for which very family has their own recipe.