Chinotto. Photo by Maurizio Zanetti

The Grand Wine Tour | The cult of Chinotto, Italy’s national soda

I have this thing for bitterness. I love bitter foods, I take my coffee black and my caffé without sugar (macchiato, please), and Italian after-dinner spirits, amari (bitters)are my thing. So it’s no surprise I love the Italians’ “national” soda, chinotto.

Chinotto is a fizzy drink that, by American standards, is bitter-sweet. Quite popular in Italy, I’ve developed a fondness for it, leading me to dig up its Belle Epoque background and even earlier.

The cult of Chinotto, Italy’s national soda

Italians have a taste for an often-missing component in food: bitterness. It can be found served straight-up in bitter greens, contrasted in the bittersweet tension of cocktails like Negroni, or in Italy’s nation-wide gamma of digestifs called amari (“bitters”). It is even in the Italian answer to Coca-Cola: a soda called Chinotto.

My own weakness for this carbonated drink led me to dig deeper into its history. I unearthed a fascinating collage of images from Italy’s past, from the exotic to the elegant, from pop to a modern re-emergence.

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5 thoughts on “The Grand Wine Tour | The cult of Chinotto, Italy’s national soda

  1. Interesting post. I sort of like the Chinotto beverage in a strange way, but I never thought of it as coming from a citrus fruit. It brings to mind the bergamot, which has been used in perfume, candies and tea for many, many years, but now it’s being presented as a soda.


    1. I bought a small jar of the chinotto fruits from Besio (€10!), and the flavor was unlike anything else. Very interesting, more intense than chinotto soda. And I was reminded of bergamot too, but I did not know that it’s presented as a soda now. Would love to try that — any brands that are popular?


  2. Great article, Diana. I’m a big fan of chinotto and I agree that it has had a comeback in recent years (also thanks to clever “re-branding”, like Chino`.) To those of you who tried it and didn’t like it, I recommend a second attempt 🙂 It’ll grow on you quickly. I especially like it as an accompaniment to a sandwich or even to a pizza, and it has no caffeine.


    1. Thanks Paolo. I’m always curious as to what others think of its flavor, too. When I brought back Crudino, most people didn’t like it very much, saying it was either too sweet or too bitter!

      Liked by 1 person

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