A wine tasting was put on for the senior class, and what a blast it was. Gary Hulseman, a sales manager for a wine distributor in Indianapolis, provided the beverages as well as the presentation. A wine tasting isn’t about imbibing so much as it is about education of this product that has around 5,000 years of history, and several thousand variations of grapes.
It was a class affair, and all of the seniors showed up in style. At one point I sampled a cheese puff (“Absolutely exquisite,” I declared) and there was a wonderful array of cheeses at our tables. The presentation began with an example of how to taste wine. Due to my own excitement over this very subject, I helped with the explanation to the group. Turns out that going to Italy DOES have its upsides.
The wines were incredible. We had Pinot Noirs, a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Sangiovese Chianti, a Zinfandel, and many more. And I learned all the fun facts. A mellow yellow is great for food because it won’t overpower the taste of the food. A Sangiovese Chianti has an orange tint around the rim that you won’t find in any other red. It was basically one big exercise in being classy.
The most fascinating part of the weekend was later that day when she walked us through her grounds (something between a medieval castle and a renaissance villa) and taught us about her process.
She uses a grape that is unique to Toscana, one that is smaller and produces a third the amount of wine than other grapes. Her rationalization: “I drink wine, I don’t drink money.” It was a simple joke, but the meaning behind that completely floored me. A profound connection exists between the people and the food they grow, one that transcends profits.
She recognize this. She said again and again that when you eat, 70% of the material comes out as waste, unusable, unneeded. However, that 30% that stays, that can remain with you forever. She was hyper-aware of that. For that reason, when we visited, she put incredible amounts of effort into preparing our meal. As her guests, she sees an intrinsic duty in providing us with healthy, wholesome food. Once she has cooked and we have eaten, a connection is formed between us forever.
How can you not love this place, and these people?
There's a proper form that must be followed when serving wine. I have it down pat.
The duchess (as we call her) taught us not only how to taste wine, but to experience it. She said, “I have this friend, God, you might know him, who gave me two eyes, a nose, and a mouth.” And those were the exact tools that we used to probe into the before-unseen depths of this “nectar of life” (Again her words).
Corno Di Vino, an amazing place
We could see the type of wine, the age of it, how it was housed, the percentage of alcohol. We could smell the bitterness, the dryness, the flavors. We could taste the dryness with our gums, the initial burst of flavor that has been mixed with the air and one’s saliva, feel the heat on the tongue, and (my favorite), the final tastes at the back of one’s throat, a faculty of the mouth I had never before realized.
Ever since I was “un bambino,” my parents have had a glass of wine with their meal. I never before understood why. “It tastes awful!” my adolescent faculties screamed in protest. But I have been given a taste of what is actual present in every glass of wine.
Part 3: The Culmination of the Weekend
Do you know the difference between Italian and American culture? Well, besides the humorous videos that have delved into this topic before, I believe it is contained entirely within the realm of wine. Fo’ real.
This weekend past I made an excursion with my class—those of us studying in Perugia through Arcadia University. We traveled to an “azienda agricolo,” also known as a vineyard. The bus ride was, as usual, one beautiful view after another rushing by like clouds, yet imprinting themselves on my mind like the memories of a good friend would.
Andrew's attempt at being profound and artistic. Comment below if he even came close!
Upon our arrival, we were greeted by one of the most humorous, bashful, and profound personalities I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. She is a duchess, life-long producer and appreciator of wine, and life-philosophizer.
Read On: Part 2