Wandering and Wondering

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

A Chianti Experience

Ok, I’ve been a bit slack again with my blogging. It was actually on Saturday the 14th of April that I had my “Chianti Experience” in Tuscany, but better late than never in telling you about it. The day trip was organized by the school, and we visited the “Castello di Verrazzano” winery near the town of “Greve in Chianti”, about an hour or so by bus from Florence. The winery is located on the top of a hill with a beautiful view over the vineyards:

View from Castello di Verrazzano

Our guide explained to us that they have been making wine here since the year 1170! That’s almost one thousand years of wine making. It blows the mind just thinking about it. After a brief tour around the grounds, we headed down into the wine cellars:

Wine barrels

Next on the agenda was what everyone had been waiting for: a chance to sample the wines over lunch. Before starting, however, our guide explained to us the proper way to drink wine. The first thing we learned is how to hold the wine glass. It should be held by the stem or the base, so that your body temperature doesn’t heat up the wine, and also so that you don’t leave grubby fingerprints all over the glass! The next thing you should do is look at the wine by holding the glass up to the light. A good red wine should be rich ruby red in color. The third step is to place the glass on the table and move the base in circles to swirl the wine around in the glass. Swirling allowing you to view the wine and also causes the aroma molecules to be released. Now we are ready to smell the wine, by putting your entire nose into the glass and taking a deep whiff. After taking a little time to contemplate the aroma, we are finally ready for the actual tasting. To do this, you take a mouthful and swish the wine around inside your mouth so that the different types of taste receptors on different parts of the tongue all get a chance to taste it. Even with all this training and all of the wine that I’ve drunk so far in Italy, I’m still very much an amateur wine taster, but there is no doubt that my wine appreciation has improved since being here.

Lunch at Castello di Verrazzano

Together with 4 different types of wine (a basic Chianti Classico, a Chianti Classico Riserva, a “Ser Chiaro” white, and a dessert wine), we had a 4 course meal consisting of antipasto, a simple tomato pasta, wild boar meat (from the wild boar which they raise on the grounds of vineyard), cannellini beans, cheese and bread. The Parmigiano cheese was served together with a premium balsamic vinegar: you basically just took a bite of cheese and then a sip of balsamic. It was by far the best balsamic vinegar I’ve ever tasted and I would have liked to have purchased a bottle to bring home, but the price was 40 euros for a 100ml bottle! Oh well, I’ll always have my memories.

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