Wednesday, December 28, 2022

On the Wine Trail in Italy's Lucky Number "17"

When I was seventeen 
It was a very good year

Yes, it has been seventeen (17!) years since I started this wine blog. I mean, who blogs anymore? It’s so “flip phone” of anyone to still be hanging onto a medium that has passed, or at best, been passed over, by faster, newer, shinier things on the internet. But the readers keep coming (Thank you!) and it’s still kinda-sorta fun. So, Happy Birthday to On the Wine Trail in Italy!

Looking forward, here is what I have in mind, presently.

I’m still pretty obsessed with the idea of transactional relationships (TR). But, personally, I have moved on. Relationships that have formed and relationships which have survived, appear to be deeper than any tit-for-tat that informed the TR’s. And yes, many of my “friends” are no longer, for a myriad of reasons. Driving the bus. I’ve stopped at a few stations and let some of the people out. Some of them got off on their own. Anyway, it doesn’t matter now. You want to be me friend? Great. Call me and we can chat. You don’t? that’s OK too! I understand if you need to be somewhere else, or someone else. Thanks for stopping by. And have a nice life.

For those who weren’t (and aren’t) as kind as the ones who just stopped replying or calling or simply ghosting (or died) I have another idea for you. One word – therapy. If my writing a wine blog caused you to want to continue to cyber stalk and cyber bully, you probably need some therapying.  Get some help. I say this because I did and it helped. A lot.

OK, enough of that. Let’s get back to the uplifting and fun stuff.

Regarding Italy, and Italian wine.

I was in an upscale Italian emporium in my town and saw a display of Chianti Classico next to the meat counter this week. I picked up the bottle and saw that it was selling for $50. Brunello prices, once upon a time. Italian wine has really grown up in my lifetime.

I’m exceedingly happy for Italian wine. But I also remember what it took to get us here. And I think the basics of Italian wine must always be noted: Reliable, healthy, savory, flavorful, well-made, and a good value. All the other attributes, well you can add them if you need to. If you’re a natural wine fanatic, you will find well-made orange wines, etc. If you like high prestige (and high cost) wines, Italy won’t disappoint. If you like esoteric grape varieties, Again, Italy is there for you.

Santa Clara - college days - wine was getting to me

What I want in a wine, and an Italian wine, is for it to be delicious to me. If it can be that, all the rest is gravy. I’ve reduced it to that, for me. I want flavor. I want deliciousness, And I want to be able to drink that wine on a regular basis, which means, I need to be able to afford to drink it. when those stars align, I’m a happy cat. And most of the time, Italy delivers on those points.

Look, the days when I was able to drink DRC or Bordeaux first growths, Sassicaia or Monfortino, those days are behind me. I’ve more than had my share of those peak moments. And I occasionally have them now. But my personal cellar, mostly red, mostly Italian, will serve me, most likely, to the end of my days, and then some. Augmenting that with some fresh whites and rosé wines, and that’s my method for survival.

However, I am drinking less these days. Alcohol and I are not battling, but there are people in my life who are struggling with alcohol. I know there are some of you out there who are struggling too. Some of you freely admit it, others are still in denial. Alcohol is a powerful agent, and a toxic one, when taken in high doses. I only hope that those of you who I care about are managing that aspect of your life. I’ve known too many alcoholics, and their lives seemed not to end well.  Please administer self-care when it comes to this matter.

The world of Italian wine is getting more diverse, in regards to the people who love Italian wine. Different cultural perspectives are blossoming in the world, and the world of Italian wine (and Italy, in general) is experiencing a shift. Black, Latinx, Asian, indigenous, you name it, it’s not just a white (or man’s) world anymore. Not to say all white (and men) go to the devil. I am white. I am a man, and I am an elder. But we’ve heard a lot from that camp. I still have something to say, but so do many other folks, too. And I am excited to listen and learn from my brothers and sisters, young and old, from all over the world.

One of my friends, and colleague, left Italy and landed in China right before Covid, for a new career opportunity. He hasn’t been back to Italy, or anywhere, since the beginning of the Covid. But you know what? His world didn’t stop or end. He found a new world to tell the story of (Italian) wine to.

And that’s an inspiration.

I’ve been thinking about what Italy is to me. Italy, yes, it’s a place and a people and a culture. But its more than that. It's inside me. It’s part of my heart and soul. You can never take Italy away from me, even if I never go back to the actual place. It is embedded inside my spirit. And I think one can see Italy in many places in the world.

And that is what I am doing presently.

I miss Italy, but truth be told, I’m not missing out on Italy. It is alive and well in my world.

Too often, in this media-altered life we’ve be subjected to, people lament that they cannot travel as much as they used to. Or, when they do, it is with a fury (and a whiff of desperation) that almost supplants the original intent of travel: to explore and to learn and experience new and unique things and cultures. Well, I found out these past three years, one can still do that. One of the best wine tastings I’ve been to in the last three years was one Marina Thompson and Daniele Cernilli did, over Zoom!

Many of us are shortchanging ourselves by “needing” to go somewhere, be some thing. In the meantime, the world is turning, time is ticking. I’m at a point in life when I don’t have time to yearn for something, to desire something that is not quite within my grasp. Not to say one shouldn’t have goals. And plans. But this journey we are all on, there are many destinations. Italy has taught me that.

I will never “conquer” Italy or Italian wine. I don’t care to, by the way. But what I do know of Italy, and Italian wine, is that is has given me a foundation for love and appreciation of a larger world, another universe, many worlds, many universes. You feel me? This is where I am at, a strapping 17-year-old (actually, flip the numbers to get the real span). Yes, the blog is seventeen. I’m a bit advanced numerically. Like the song says,

And I think of my life as vintage wine

From fine old kegs

From the brim to the dregs


There you have it. so far, so good. See you next year - Tanti cari auguri di buon anno!


wine blog +  Italian wine blog + Italy W
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