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Thursday 09/25/08 - Wine

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Italian wine smells.

I am often reminded by my relations of the first family wedding that I was allowed to go to as a six year old. My much older cousin was getting married to a beautiful Italian lady and of course her relatives insisted upon Italian wine at the reception.

I had been introduced to wine with a lot of water in it as a baby (presumably so I would go to sleep) but this hadn't really awakened my sense of smell to wine. One of the waitresses at the reception in a marquee on an unusually pleasant English day took a bit of a shine (in a grandmotherly way) to this six year old and I was quietly presented with a glass of wine. "Italian", she said, "don't tell anyone".

So I took a sniff at this 'adult' beverage and said to my 70 year old neighbour "Italian wine smells, it's not like the stuff I drink at home". My older and much wiser great-uncle told me I was correct. All wines smell, but some smell better than others, and some do not taste the same as they smell.

Well being thoroughly baffled by this explanation I smelled it again, (I wasn't quite brave enough to actually drink it 'neat' yet despite my bravado). My great uncle explained the different smells to me. Strawberries, slightly of wild herbs, a woody smell from the barrels, a sort of blackberry whiff there somewhere and so on. Taste it, he said, don't drink it, just have a sip and tell me what you think.

By this time my trepidation at drinking 'neat' wine had disappeared in my eagerness to try a taste of what I could smell. The first sip was a true experience. I suddenly transformed from being a schoolboy into a wine connoisseur in the space of a couple of seconds (or so I thought at the time). Yes I can taste this, yes I can taste that. Wow!

"Don't drink anymore of that", my mentor told me. Have a sip of water. Try a sip of this one and you tell me this time what you can smell and taste. Oh dear. Different colour!!

Italian wine smells, so I told him what I smelled. It was very different from the one I had tried before, much crisper, sharper, more scent, pine needles was it? Having obviously passed the first test I was allowed to have a sip. These are both made out of grapes? Why are they so different?

Well it depends upon the grape variety and the part if Italy it's made. In the North they make very different wines from those of the South. The soil they are grown in varies from very good, to very poor and the aspect (the facing direction to gain the most sun) can change the character of a grape and therefore the wine that can be made from it. It's also a question of keeping the very best grapes for the best wines from a particular region.

My great uncle had me spellbound with all this information and I forgot to finish my wine. "Now you know a bit about the care taken in making wine in Italy you will sip it and enjoy it like I do, rather than just drink it".

I could not resist "how do you know so much about wine uncle?"
"I've lived and worked in a winery in Italy all my life. I've owned it since my father died."

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A synopsis on Wine.

Italian wine smells.

I am often reminded by my relations of the first family wedding that I was allowed to go to as a six year old. My much older cousin was getting marrie...

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