If you’re invited to a dinner party in France, your host will likely greet you with a kiss on the cheek and an offer of “un apéro,” short for aperitif. This little ritual offers a drink and a small nibble while waiting for supper to finish and the guests to assemble.
It’s distinctly different from the lavish American appetizer spread. The apéro is a touch of hospitality meant to slow you down, to help you make the transition from the outside world to the home of friends. It's rarely elaborate, and it's never filling — you wouldn't want to spoil your appetite for the main course!
The drink is typically wine, and the small bite may be brought in from the local traiteur, a neighborhood shop that specializes in charcuterie, prepared foods, and condiments.
Here are a few of our favorite combinations:
Pair buttery Lindsay Naturals green ripe olives with a crisp white wine. Pinot grigio and sauvignon blanc make good options.
Opt for a Mediterranean version, serving fruity Kalamata olives with a medium-bodied red wine like syrah or pinot noir.
Take a Spanish approach: briny Manzanilla olives pair well with a small glass of dry sherry, especially fino or amontillado styles.
For an all-American apéro, serve a small dry martini (we like 2 parts gin to 1 part dry vermouth) with skewers of — what else? — pimiento-stuffed olives.