Several folks have mentioned that I seem to be getting into a “rant” when I drop words here. That must change.
I truly love the wine world and seem to spend many of my waking hours engaged in some activity, be it work or after work, that relates to wine and food and Italy. So while the successes recently have been rationed, in no way am I compelled to disengage. I only yearn to have the message heard and believed by more people. Alas, perhaps the messenger is to blame.
Around 40 years ago, Italian food and wine awareness started making inroads on the American scene. It was through wines like Lambrusco , Soave, Frascati, Valpolicella and Chianti that Americans were starting to see, in the stores and on wine lists. Much of it had to do with the locales of Rome, Florence and Venice, tourist destinations on the Italian Trail. When in Rome, many people would enjoy a glass of Frascati, in Florence, a bottle of Chianti and in Venice a beaker of Soave or Valpolicella.
What are the tourists of today finding? Let’s say in Siena? Perhaps a glass of Brunello or Vino Nobile do Montepulciano. On the Amalfi coast, perhaps a white wine from Campania, like a Greco or a Falanghina. Tourists in Sicily might enjoy a bottle of Nero d’Avola or a Grillo. In Trento they could order a ½ liter of Lagrein or a flute of dry Spumante made from Pinot Noir or Chardonnay. On Lake Como a tableside sip of Cortese or a refreshing Dolcetto might be enjoyed. Tourists are delving into Italy, following trails into the smaller towns and regions. And there, waiting for them are the foods and the wines. Today, gnocchi is more commonly found on menus in Chicago or Denver. Salumi are made and found in Seattle and San Francisco.
Coffee is roasted in Dallas and Brooklyn to specifications once only found in Naples or Trieste. So, we are making progress in the last 40 years or so.
Why? In a word, Italy is Delicious. The air, the earth, the water, the wine. The aromas, the rain, the roasting in the oven, the searing on the grill. The fermenting in the barrels, the longing within the guidebooks. Italy is the ultimate trend and the ultimate tradition. Italy is subtle and delicate, also outspoken and intense.
I pledge allegiance to al dente and ristretto. I seek to form an alliance with Gorgonzola and Trenette.
Do I have a strategy? Does a donkey carrying oil up to the castle have a plan? Yes, to get there. And that is my plan, to get there.
Everyday, one day at a time. One sunrise at a time, one hill at a time. Without relent.