The way that alcohol is enjoyed in different countries often varies from region to region – especially where tradition and culture are concerned. Europe has a particular wealth of different drinking cultures, with so many countries so close together – all of which enjoy drinking traditions that can differ vastly.
The home of good wine and pasta, in Italian culture, the consumption of alcohol is intrinsically linked to mealtimes and food. Aperitivos are good examples of this, as Italians will often enjoy a cocktail, wine or liquor before lunch or dinner – paired with snacks such as cheese, hams and olives to encourage the appetite before a meal. Aperitivos are usually prosecco, Campari and Aperol. Digestivos are also another example of alcohol being consumed in line with food, as they are drunk after a meal and tend to be herb-infused liqueurs, designed to aid digestion. Typical digestivos include limoncello, nocino and Galliano.
The French typically savour the flavours of the beverages that they consume, taking the time to admire every component of their alcoholic drinks. They often do this not only to enjoy the taste of their drinks, but to also amplify the experience of their meal. When consuming alcohol in France, it tends to be little and often, but the measures are smaller and the drinks themselves are leisurely appreciated. There is also always water on the table. The French also introduce their children to alcohol relatively early; many argue that this casual approach makes alcohol less forbidden, and therefore creates a healthy relationship with alcohol.
When it comes to Germany, one of the first associations that everyone makes with the country’s drink of choice is beer. It’s not surprising when you consider that Germans drink 28 gallons per capita every year, making them the third largest consumer of beer worldwide. They have an entire festival dedicated to the beverage – Oktoberfest – and legally, younger people are allowed to start drinking beer at the age of 16. Due to the sheer availability of beer, the attitude towards drinking in Germany is much more casual, with the act of going out for one beer and continuing with the rest of your day being a common one.
Similar to Italy, a lot of the consumption of alcohol in Spain can be centred around food. As a normal and natural part of an average day, different alcoholic drinks are consumed based on the time and place – with a preconceived idea of what drinks you should be enjoying when. Beer is the most accepted beverage to drink at any time of the day, often enjoyed with lunch. Wine, as a staple of Spanish culture, is widely available, tends to be of high-quality and is usually ordered alongside your dinner, but it can also be enjoyed alongside your main meal during lunch. Much like Italy, after lunch or a tapas dinner, a round of chupitos – shots of an herbal or lemon liqueur – will be consumed.
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