I always feel bad when I order a Diet Coke (or "Coca Light") when I'm in Italy. First, it clearly gives me away as an American. (Some Italians call Coke or Diet Coke - "American champagne.") Second, it usually costs more than a glass of wonderful house wine. But sometimes on a hot day, you just crave a Coke, you know?
Though I've visited Italy dozens of times, it was only on my most recent trip that I was introduced to Chino - an Italian soda by San Pellegrino. Thinking I would feel way less guilty drinking Italian soda in Italy vs. American soda, I gave it a try. Chino has a distinct citrus taste and was pretty refreshing. I'd probably order one again, though I'm not sure it will replace a Diet Coke. (I swear I'm trying to give it up - those chemicals are bad!)
I decided to find out more about Chino and found this great description on the Drink Station blog:
Chinotto is a sparkling Italian soft drink named after the small, bitter citrus fruit of the Myrtle-leaved orange tree. The tree is believed to have originated in China, hence the name. Today Chinotto fruit is mostly cultivated in Italy, where the peel extract is an essential ingredient in Italian Bitters ('Amari'); alcoholic liqueurs drunk either as a digestif or an aperitif. San Pellegrino claim to have formulated the first Chinotto soft drink in 1932, today marketed under the brand name of Chino.
Sparkling Chino is a dark chestnut brown colour, clear and intense. When poured out, fine pinhead bubbles can be observed rising from various points in the glass. On the nose this is sweetly spiced and strikingly aromatic: Allspice, cloved orange, with rooty and woody scents all combining to create a spice cake impression.
Opening with a fruity caramel, cola flavour on the palate, a long and controlled progression of sweet to bitter follows. Flavours of spice cake and ginger at first, cassia and clove, then black cherry, fig and toffee. Subtle notes of liquorice and menthol emerge to add further points of interest along the gently bitter, persistent finish.
Have you tasted Chino? What did you think?