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Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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aperitifs, drinks served before a meal to ‘open’ (from the Latin aperire) the digestive system and stimulate the appetite, of which vermouth and similar drinks are archetypal. Wines commonly served as aperitifs are dry, white, and not too alcoholic: champagne or any dry sparkling wine; fino and manzanilla sherry; mosel wines up to spätlese level of sweetness; less rich alsace whites; muscadet, chablis, and virtually any light, dry, still white wine without too much oak or alcohol. Customs vary nationally, however, and the French have customarily served spirits, fortified wines, vins doux naturels, vins de liqueur, and sweet wines such as sauternes before meals. A common all-purpose aperitif, apparently acceptable to French and non-French alike, is the kir, or vin blanc cassis, as well as a blend of white wine and sparkling water sometimes known as a spritzer. The port trade serves white port as an aperitif, sherry producers a dry oloroso or fino, too many amateurs a full-bodied Chardonnay.