70 Italian Drinks Vocabulary to Quench Your Thirst for Learning

Italy is a country renowned for its delicious food and wine, but its drinks repertoire goes far beyond that.

From classic cocktails to refreshing non-alcoholic options, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at some popular drinks names in Italian, along with the essential phrases you need to know when ordering them.

Contents

Basic Italian Beverage Vocabulary

Let’s start with the basics! Here are the words you need to know to refer to water, soda and other of the most common drinks: 

ItalianEnglish
Acqua Water
Acqua minerale Mineral water
Bibita Soft drink
Soda Soda
Aranciata Orange soda
Bibita gassata Carbonated beverage
Bevanda analcolica Non-alcoholic beverage
Succo di frutta Fruit juice
Frullato Smoothie
Granita Slushie-like cold blended fruit drink

Coffees in Italian

Coffee culture in Italy is deeply ingrained in the daily lives of its people. It’s a social ritual, a way to start the day and a pick-me-up throughout the day. Italians are known for their love of espresso, and they drink it in many different ways. Know how you like your coffee in Italian with these vocabulary words: 

ItalianEnglish
Caffè Coffee
Caffè Freddo Iced coffee
Caffè Americano American coffee
Espresso Espresso
Caffè Doppio Double espresso
Cappuccino Cappuccino
Macchiato "Stained" milk (steamed milk with a shot of espresso)
Caffè Lungo Long coffee (a milder, longer shot of espresso)
Ristretto Short or restricted espresso (a very strong, concentrated shot)
Caffè Corretto "Corrected" coffee (espresso with a shot of liquor)
Caffè Marocchino Moroccan coffee (espresso with cocoa and milk foam)
Caffè Shakerato Shaken coffee (espresso shaken with ice and sugar)
Caffè Mocha Mocha coffee (espresso with cocoa and milk)

Teas in Italian

Tea isn’t as deeply ingrained in Italian culture as coffee, but it’s becoming increasingly popular. Italians typically drink tea in the winter or when they’re sick, as a hot pick-me-up. You’ll also see tea being drunk after lunch or dinner, sometimes with a sweet snack or dessert.

Tea is typically served in a cup or mug with a wedge of lemon or a spoonful of honey. Unlike in some other places in Europe, it’s not customary to add milk to tea in Italy.

ItalianEnglish
Tea
Tè verde Green tea
Tè nero Black tea
Tisana Herbal tea
Tè al limone Lemon tea
Tè alla menta Mint tea
Tè al gelsomino Jasmine tea
Tè al miele Honey tea
Camomilla Chamomile
Tisana alla frutta Fruit infusion

Wines and Liquors in Italian

Italians typically drink wine with meals, and they often have a glass of liquor after dinner.

It’s customary to pair wine with meals that will complement the food they’re eating. For example, a red wine such as Chianti is often paired with meat dishes, while a white wine such as Pinot Grigio is often paired with fish dishes.

Italy is one of the world’s leading producers of wine, and a lot of wines and liquors have the same names in English and Italian. Below are some key terms, as well as some alcoholic drinks of Italian origin:

ItalianEnglish
Vino Wine
Vino rosso Red wine
Vino bianco White wine
Vino rosato Rosé wine
Spumante Sparkling wine
Liquore Liqueur
Birra Beer
Prosecco Prosecco
Chianti Chianti
Barolo Barolo
Pinot GrigioPinot Grigio
Nebbiolo Nebbiolo
Sangiovese Sangiovese
Limoncello Limoncello
Amaretto Amaretto
Aperol Spritz Aperol Spritz
Negroni Negroni
Bellini Bellini
Martini Martini
Campari Campari
Vermouth Vermouth

Regional Specialties

Different drinks exist in different regions of Italy for a variety of reasons, including climate, local produce, and history and tradition.

For example, the Veneto region is known for its warm climate and production of prosecco, so the aperol spritz is a popular drink there. The Piedmont region has a cooler climate, so bicerin, a hot drink made with espresso, chocolate and cream, is popular there.

When visiting Italy, be sure to try a few of the regional drinks to experience the country’s unique culinary culture!

Sicily:

  • Granita di Caffè — Coffee granita, often served with a brioche.
  • Marsala — Fortified wine produced in the region of Marsala.

Veneto:

  • Spritz Veneziano — A popular aperitif made with Aperol, Prosecco, and soda water.
  • Vin Brulé — Mulled wine, typically enjoyed in the colder months.

Tuscany:

  • Chianti Classico — A famous red wine made in the Chianti region.
  • Vin Santo — Sweet dessert wine often paired with cantuccini (almond biscuits).

Piedmont:

  • Barolo  — Known as the “King of Wines,” a renowned red wine from this region.
  • Bicerin — A layered coffee, chocolate, and cream drink from Turin.

Campania:

Liguria:

  • Chinotto — A bittersweet soda made from chinotto oranges, popular in the region.
  • Sciacchetrà — A sweet dessert wine from the Cinque Terre region in Italy, made using a traditional wine-making process from sun-dried grapes.

Sardinia:

  • Mirto — A traditional myrtle berry liqueur, often served as a digestif.
  • Cannonau — A robust red wine produced in Sardinia.

Friuli-Venezia Giulia:

Italian Drinking Etiquette

Italian Drinking Etiquette is an integral part of Italian culture, reflecting a deep appreciation for beverages and the social aspects of sharing drinks. A few things to keep in mind when sharing a drink with an Italian friend:

  • Aperitivo, the pre-dinner ritual, is a time for relaxation and conversation over light drinks like the famous Aperol Spritz.
  • As I’ve already mentioned, Italians take great care in selecting the right wine to accompany their meals, with red wines complementing meat dishes and white wines enhancing seafood.
  • Water is served in glass bottles or carafes, and it’s common to have both still and sparkling options available.
  • Coffee, usually in the form of espresso, is a post-meal tradition, typically taken without sugar or milk.
  • After indulging in a hearty Italian meal, a digestif like Limoncello or Grappa aids in digestion.

And finally, when toasting, it’s customary to make eye contact and say “Salute!” or “Cin cin!”

Useful Phrases for Ordering

You’re all ready to head out to get your drinks! You can use these basic phrases to place your order:

 

Whatever you’re drinking, from water to a nice alcoholic refresher, these Italian drinks vocabulary will help you get started. Drinks are on us!

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