As anyone might expect the Italian culture surrounding food is in a category all of its own. Unlike many other cultures where people live to work or live solely to advance in society, Italians live for life and sitting down and enjoying a meal is one way of doing so. During one of these lunches it is not uncommon to have 4-5 bottles of wine amongst your family over a couple hours of loud and compassionate conversation. Since my stay with Mario and Vera Krusic, I have experienced many a meal completely different from that which I was used to in the United States. Here is a little guide, explained to me in detail by Mario, concerning the proper way to drink during a family lunch.
1: When you arrive at a restaurant or are sitting down to a home cooked meal you are greeted by a fizzy type of wine, not champagne, for example frizzantino or prosecco.
2: Next you select a red wine to accompany meat or a white wine if you chose to eat fish. The red wine, Merlo for example, will differ depending on the type of meat you get, light versus stronger meat requires a light versus strong wine, red is also always served at an ambient temperature. If you are having fish stay with white wine 10-11 degrees Celsius.
4: After you are finished the main meal you will now have desert wine. Desert wine is very sweet and very strong, 18 percent alcohol content in many cases. An example is vin santo or la crème de cristo.
5: After desert liquors are served. For example sorbet or amaro lucano, these are meant to help digestion after a large meal.
6: Coffee is after and the stronger the better to help revive you from the food coma you’re slowly slipping into.
7: If you’re not too drunk already then there is a brandy or grappa, made from grapes that is served. You will only drink a tiny amount but the taste helps to complete the meal. You may drink cognac if you are more French than Italian.
Now you are finished and it is only lunch so mind your manners in the street and hope you recover fast enough to do it all again for dinner in 4-5 hours…. Ah Italy