Since 2011 there is an interesting news regarding aperitifs in Italy. It is the sugheritivo!
Aperitif is a very popular dolce-vita-style moment of the day in Italy. After a day at work, and before returning home for dinner, Italians often stop at bars, wineries, and cocktail bars to have a drink munching on something while entertaining into pleasant conversations with friends and coworkers. It is a very old tradition in Italy, so much that Crivel, an Italian composer and songwriter, in 1932 wrote the song "L'Ora del Campari", or "It's Time for Campari", the still nowadays very popular vermouth. The song states that after a tedious day at work finally the liberating time of Campari has come!
In recent years aperitifs were transformed into more substantial food events with elaborated appetizers of all kinds, so much that they started to be called aperi-dinners! By the way, if you are out and about an Italian city, and do not feel like returning to your hotel for a dinner or going to some restaurant, you can stop and have a quite inexpensive flat fee aperi-dinner, usually lasting until 11 PM. The average price is 5 euros per person.
What is the sugheritivo? You could translate it into aperi-cork. Cork wood is indeed at the center of this new eco-friendly trend. After the new silicon corks entered the market with clear intents to replace the more expensive cork wood, producers and consumers discovered the poor quality of silicon. Moreover, silicon is impossible to recycle and does not degrade for millenniums. Cork wood is much better for wine. It allows the bottle to "breathe" allowing gradual air exchange and fosters the good aging of wine. Most importantly, cork is 100% recyclable, and can be utilized in many ways. Plus, regions such as Sardinia live on cork woods producing tons of this precious material each year and allowing these trees to continue a healthy life.
When going to aperi-corks, or sugherivo, bring along a bottle cork, and you will receive a free glass of wine. Corks will then be recycled appropriately. And remember, usually mistrust wine bottles with silicon corks. That is the first hint you may be drinking cheap wine.