Sunday, September 29, 2013

I’ll Have What She’s Drinking

Imagining the perfect wine

In our everyday world, at the end of a day, many of us go home, change into something more comfortable, look in the kitchen for something to cook and pop a bottle of wine. Like breathing, we do it often. And as is often the case, we don’t think too much about it. And for all intents and purposes that is usually more than adequate.

This morning I read an article in the NY Times, I'll Have What She's Thinking, about scientific inquiry into the nature of spontaneous orgasm. In the haze of an endorphin high and while eating a delicious breakfast, I poured over the article. One graph caught my attention:
“The finding was significant in that it challenged a common stereotype — that men achieve orgasm more readily than women. Now science was suggesting that, at least for some women, all it took was a vivid imagination.”

Thursday, September 26, 2013

An Italian Sommelier’s Diary: The Nightmare Table

The scene is an urban setting somewhere in the Western half of the United States. A wine waiter is working a large party of folks who are celebrating. Maybe they have just come from the Emmys. Or perhaps the stars aligned to have all these people in a room at the same time, partying. Our sommelier is called over to a table of seven, four women and three men. At which point I will yield to the wine steward, who will relate the following events in his own voice.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Obsessed with Eggplant - by way of Israel - via Calabria, Sicily and New Orleans

Most of the past week was spent in New Orleans. It’s the closest I can get to Sicily, and the food culture there is somewhat of a recharge for me. The people are relationship driven and the wine and cocktail scene there is bristling with life. It’s my kind of place and it’s in my back yard, so I am very happy to go there.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Future of Italian Wine in America

If there is one thing in our American’s DNA, it’s our tendency to look forward. We had a brief fling in the 1960’s with being here and now but that passed. And though now we are obsessed with our yoga-ramen- food truck pageant of life; that too will pass. What will never pass is that which we can never have – the stuff out there in front of us that we constantly reach for. And that, dear readers, is where Italian wine is sitting at a little table in a busy piazza, having a caffè macchiato and waiting patiently for us to show up.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

One Last Harvest

They told me I’ve been here long enough. Time to make room for new growth. Told me to prepare for my last harvest.

It used to be that an old-vine vineyard was prized, revered. Something in it had the depth of meaning more profound than just terroir. Dirt plus wisdom. Now, those attributes are no longer prized. The owners want bigger numbers. And their analysts tell them they need new and shiny.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Finally! A Refosco to Love

It was a late night and looked to be an even earlier morning. Shutting down the evening with a wine dinner, singing Neapolitan songs with my pal Luciano, I scurried home to pack and sleep for a few hours. 4:30AM arrived sooner than I had hoped. It was Sept. 11 and I was getting on a plane, this time to Houston.

Arriving at the first account at 10:00 AM, my colleague opened up two bags with Italian wine, Barolo, Barbaresco, Sauvignon, Tuscan, rosato, you name it, we had it. And there in the middle of the pack was the Refosco.

I’m not one you can count as a fan of Refosco. I find them too nervous, too blue. They remind me of the dead finger trick, where you put your finger next to a friends and then rub them with your other hand, one finger on each side, to give one the sensation of touching a dead finger.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Little Tony of Italy, Bressan of Friuli and the chasm of cultural chauvinism

A woman ventures out from her familiar surroundings with her daughter and her camera. The era is the 1930’s. An unusual act in those days. Or so the story goes. A series of books ensued, covering stories of children in different countries, from Mexico to Canada, Sweden to Italy, comprising the "Children of America" and "Children of All Lands" series. A friend and a mentor left me a copy of one of the books when he died, one “Little Tony of Italy.”

I put “Little Tony of Italy” on the bookshelf and there it sat. And then last month when the mess in Friuli with Fulvio Bressan hit the internets this book fell into my lap. I thumbed through it and started thinking about racism.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

An introvert’s guide to Italian wine

I’m a devout introvert. Ten minutes in a NY subway and I can’t wait to get upstairs, where there are even more people. Naturally shy as a kid, I spent a lot of time by myself. It was easy, living in the desert. But when I went to Italy the first time, and landed in Rome, I had no choice. I had to earn to live with the others.

Back home, in the span of a week, I've come across a lot of people looking for wine. It is my job to try and make that wine Italian.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

The “Other” Italian Wine Guy

Joe Piccola just landed in Rome. This will be the first of two trips in the same month to Italy. Joe just became a grandpa, his personal life has gotten reinvigorated, he’s lost 50 pounds and he’s spending more time in the vineyards of Italy. And those of us at home couldn’t be any happier for him.