In most countries we go directly to the restaurant and have a drink while we study the menu. In Milan you start with an aperitivo.
The aperitivo is an appetizer: a glass of wine or a cocktail with snacks, that you have before going out for dinner – at around 6-8 p.m..
Over the last couple of years the Milanese aperitivo, or as they call it happy hour, has evolved from being a quick cocktail into becoming an event that sometimes stretches over the entire night and the snacks have become a buffet, that doesn’t wake your appetite but stills your hunger.’
Via Tortona/Via Savona area:
Via Tortona /Via Savona (find on map) is an area with many cool brunch/lunch places and small boutiques and in the evening it’s a great place to have an aperitivo.
Gogol & Company 101, Via Savona (find on map) is a charming bookstore/art gallery/café/bar with a great aperitivo in unusual surroundings.Opening hours Tuesday-Sunday 9 a.m.-10 p.m.
Outside the beaten track but relatively close to MUDEC and Corso Vercelli:
Tagiura ristorante, 5,Via Tagiura (find on map) – not extremely central but an absolute must for aperitivo and lunch.
Another good area to have an aperitivo together with the Milanese in is the very cosy Isola area (find on map). The best street is Via P. Borsieri (find on map) where the legendary jazz place Blue Note is too.
Here you also find super cool and beautiful Café Gorille, 20, Via Gaetano de Castillia (find on map) which is rich on atmosphere.
The Navigli area is also rich on aperitivo places such as Manhattan Navigli at 13, Ripa di Porta Ticinese (find on map).
Swami Cafë (find on map) – near Porta Romana, 12, Viale Montenero.
Lacerba Cocktail bar, 4, Via Orti (find on map) in the Porta Romana area. This place is fast becoming one of the favourites with the choosy Milanese.
God save the food, 1, Piazza del Carmine (find on map) high quality buffet and cocktails right in the center of Milan in Brera.
Terrazza di Maison Moschino, Hotel Moschino,(find on map) it is a little pricier than most places (10-15€). It’s on 12, Viale Monte Grappa , super chic and very fashion.
Radetzky €€ 105, Corso Garibaldi (find on map) 8-1.30 am Monday to Thursday, 8-2 am Friday and Saturday and 10-1.30 am Sunday, not the cheapest place in Milan but great location and service.
On your way back from a shopping tour Tramè is a great place to have an aperitivo, in the middle of Brera and very lively (find on map) you may already know the place from a lunch! You won’t get any snacks here, just an excellent drink but you can try some of their delicious sandwiches with it, but you have to buy those on the side..
Porta Vittoria area:
That’s Vapore 5, Corso di Porta Vittoria (find on map).
Pandenus,15, Via Alessandro Tadino (find on mapt) has great cocktails, a fantastic buffet and a super cozy atmosphere.
Nottingham Forest, 1, Viale Piave (find on map) it has made it to the prestigious list of 50 Great Bars of the World published by the English Class Magazine. Very international crowd and their cocktails are pure molecular science.
Bar Basso, 39, Via Plinio (find on map) One of Milan’s historical cocktailbars, Inventors of the drink Negroni Sbagliato. Close to shopping area Corso Buenos Aires.
In the same area you’ll find Settimo Senso, 19, Viale Abruzzi (find on map) – Good and cheap, super service!
And then there is Mimmo very close to Porta Venezia at 34, Via Sirtori (find on map)
When visiting Milan you should be drinking the local wine from Lombardy, which are part of the culinary tradition in the area. Lombardy has five DOCG (di origine controllata garantita – guaranteed and controlled origin) wines and we want to introduce them to you and give you some ideas of what kind of food each of them is good with and what to buy home from your trip. Our wine expert, certified sommelier Luisa Benetti has been an invaluable help here.
A fantastic place for tasting wine in Milan is the historical winebar and -shop Cantine Isola located in Milan’s Chinatown at 30, Via Paolo Sarpi (find on map)
1. Franciacorta spumante, classical method. As the first Lombard DOCG wine we have chosen the very sophisticated white (or maybe even rosé) sparkling wine, a DOCG spumante. classical method – also known as the Champenoise Method that is produced in Franciacorta (Lombardy, province of Brescia).
There are numerous quality wine producers, just to mention some of the most importantVisit the offical Franciacorta websiteones: Barone Pizzini, Bellavista, Berlucchi, Ca’ del Bosco, Contadi Castaldi, Il Mosnel, Monte Rossa.
“Sparkling wine is a versatile wine that can be drunk with most typical Lombard dishes e.g. risotto with saffron and ossobuco, cold cuts and, obviously, seafood but it is actually also outstanding with pizza.” says sommelier Luisa Benetti.
Some suggestions for those of you, who want to buy wine to take home.
Franciacorta Official Sparkling Wine Sponsor at EXPO
2. Sforzato di Valtellina. Our next wine is a red wine and if you like a robust and intensely scented red wine with a deep red glow you need to try out the Sforzato di Valtellina (or Sfursàt as it’s called in the local dialect in the province of Sondrio). This wine comes from the mountains where the so-called heroic viticulture has produced a very interesting DOCG, A wine produced of Nebbiolo grapes, that have first been let to wither , which may sound a little negative, but which results in a very robust wine, locally it is called Chiavennasca.
“Lo Sfursàt is a robust and elegant win, which is aged in wooden barrels. It goes well with strong tasting meat dishes or aged cheese. But you can just as easily enjoy a glass after dinner” says Luisa..
Some of the best known producers are: Assoviuno, Bettini, Caven, Fay, Mamete Prevostini, Nera, Nino Negri, Plozza, Rainoldi, Triacca.
Some suggestions for those of you, who want to buy wine to take home.
Nino Negri Sforzato di Valtellina – Sfursat 5 stelle 2011
Bettini – Sfursat di Valtellina 2011
Fay – Sforzato di Valtellina, Ronco del Picchio 2010
Assoviuno – Sforzato di Valtellina, San Bello 2008
Rainoldi – Sfursat di Valtellina 2010
Triacca – Sforzato di Valtellina, San Domenico 2010
3. Oltrpò Pavese, classical method. Our third DOCG wine comes from the area south of Milan in the hills in the province of Pavia and is another sparkling wine this time . Oltrepò Pavese Metodo Classico DOCG (Champenoise Method).
The main vine variety used is pinot nero which was brought here from France in the second half of the 19th century.
Our expert sommelier Luisa Benetti says:”This bubbly wine is suitable for vegetarian and vegan dishes e.g. risotto with strawberries or a more traditional pasta e fagioli (pasta with beans). But it’s perfect for an aperitivo with appetizers as well.”
Some producers: Anteo, Cà di Frara, Castello di Cigognola, Conte Vistarino, Giorgi, Montagna , Picchi, Podere San Giorgio, Tenuta il Bosco, Torrevilla, Travaglino, Vigne Olcru
Some suggestions for those of you who want to buy some of this wonderful wine
Oltrepò Pavese Metodo Classico Brut Rosé Victoria 2008 (pinot nero) – Vigne Olcru
Oltrepò Pavese Metodo Classico Pinot nero Pas Dosé ‘more rosé 2011 (pinot nero) – Castello di Cigognola
Oltrepò Pavese Metodo Classico Cruasé (pinot nero) – Anteo
Oltrepò Pavese Metodo Classico Pinot nero Conte Vistarino 1865 – 2008 (pinot nero e chardonnay) – Conte Vistarino
4. Valtellina Superiore DOCG. For the fourth DOCG wine we return to the mountains in the province of Sondrio where we find a close relative to the Sforzato, an important red wine, the Valtellina Superiore DOCG.
It comes from the same vine variety the Nebbiolo, locally called Chiavennasca, from the same valley and the same heroic viticulture as the Sforzato and the Valtellina Superiore is also aged in barrels But an important difference is that the grapes aren’t left to wither.
If the label says ‘Riserva’ it means that it has been aged for at least three years..
Luisa Benetti, our sommelier and wine expert recommends the following five Cru: Grumello – Inferno – Sassella – Valgella – Maroggia.
“The Valtellina Superiore is intense and smooth and goes well with pizzoccheri alla Valtellinese or a dish of meat and porcino mushrooms.” Luisa says.
Some of the most important producers are: AR.PE.PE, Bettini, Caven, Fay, Mamete Prevostini, Nera, Nino Negri, Plozza, Rainoldi, Triacca
Here are some suggestions if you want to take some Valtellina Superiore home:
Valtellina Superiore La Botte Ventitre’ 2002 – Bettini
Valtellina Superiore Sassella San Lorenzo 2011 – Mamete Prevostini
Valtellina Superiore Riserva Signorie 2007 – Nera
Valtellina Superiore Inferno Carlo Negri 2011 – Nino Negri
5. Moscato di Scanzo. Like any self-respecting chef would we finish off with the dessert wine, the smallest DOCG in Italy, a real gem; the Moscato di Scanzo, a sweet red passito wine.
Scanzo is a small municipality in the province of Bergamo, its Moscato is a native Italian vine with an ancient history, the grapes are sun-dried for several weeks and the wine is aged for at least two years.
“The result,” says our wine expert, sommelier Luisa Benetti,”is a sweet wine that you can drink either with a chocolate tart or Marrons glacés – in Milan the most famous ones are from the Pasticceria Galli (find on map)”
Here are some ideas in case you want to buy some to take home:
Locatelli Caffi – Moscato di Scanzo 2011
De Toma – Moscato di Scanzo 2011
Il Cipresso – Moscato di Scanzo Serafino 2010
La Brugherata – Moscato di Scanzo Doge 2011
Biava – moscato di Scanzo 2011
The best known producers are Biava – Cascina del Francès – Cerri – De Toma – Il Cipresso – La Brugherata -Locatelli Caffi
Orange wine is apparently all the rage this year so what is it and which Italian labels produce them?
They are the new rosé but rosé wine gets its colour from the skins of black grapes left to macerate for some time and then removed, so the wine doesn’t become red, whereas orange wines are made from white grapes and the macerating of the skins give them their spectacular colour, it is not a new process but a very old tradition indigenous to the Friuli Venezia Giulia region. They are perfect with raw fish, meat and venison.
It may be hard to find in the wine bars right now but we assure you it is going to be a lot easier this autumn.
Here is list of the producers in Italy:
Abbazia San Giorgio Costadilà
Porta del Vento