Sunday, February 26, 2023

If buying wine were like buying an airplane ticket

Over the past week or so, I’ve been ensnared in the rabbit hole known as buying an airplane ticket. It has been awhile since I last flew, not like when I was working and on the road constantly. Then it was just something I had to do, suffer through it, get the ticket, the car, the hotel, and move through my week. Rinse and repeat. Now I travel if I want to, not because I have to. It changes the dynamic somewhat. The sense of urgency isn’t there. And the need to be somewhere, at some time, exactly, just isn’t as pressing.

But I do have somewhere to be, and for that I need to catch a flight.

While I was going through this exercise, I imagined if every time we wanted a bottle of wine, what it would feel like to have to jump through the hoops one must jump through when arranging a flight.

Let’s take a bottle of red wine from Tuscany, for example. And let’s say I am buying it online directly from the producer.

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Dino Illuminati – Once in a Lifetime

A little boy, nine years old, raised by his grandfather after losing his mother at a young age, is walking along the Tronto river, picking up reeds and brushing them against the other reeds, bushes, the stream, anything. It’s a normal day in June of 1940. Except it isn’t. It’s the day Italy enters into World War II, allied with Germany. For the young boy, Dino Illuminati, it would be another in a series of transformative events in his life, one which would see Italy changing like it had never changed in all of its history. And little did he know that he would be a history maker in his own right.

Dino grew into a young man and became a produce merchant. He was known for his broccoli, dubbed the “King of broccoli” when he was in the zenith of that stage of his life. He was one of the first in his region to plant kiwi. And his region, which straddled Marche and Abruzzo, took to kiwi as did all of Italy. Dino did well.

But he didn’t always fare so well. He knew hunger. And loneliness. And tragedy. But he was resilient. And just a little bit stubborn. Dino wanted more than to be the king of broccoli or a kiwi pioneer.

So, he took to his roots – grapevines.

Sunday, February 12, 2023

The Perfect Italian

From the archives...
I was sitting at the bar of a restaurant, don’t remember where. It could have been Columbus, Ohio or St. Louis, Missouri. Or Yountville, California. I travel alone most of the time, so often I sit at the bar of a restaurant and order from the food menu. It’s kind of like work, in that I see what is going out to the folks, libations and wine, and get an idea of where I am at.

This time another solitary traveler sat nearby. She started up a conversation, found out I was in the wine business. When I told her my area of concentration was Italy, she perked up. “Oh, I love Italians, the wine, the countryside, the men; it's all so gorgeous.” She was younger than me; I don't think she was coming on to me. Or at least I wasn’t picking up that vibe. No, she was just talkative and I am a good listener. So I listened.

Sunday, February 05, 2023

The Valuable and Unanticipated Lessons Ballet Taught Me About Wine

Ballet troupe performing at San Francisco's Cathedral of St. Mary
This past week, when the outside world was covered in ice, and we were marooned on our little island, I started going through boxes to purge old belongings. Along the way I ran into all my old ballet notes. Ballet, you ask?

Yes, it seemed that the art department in college was a little short on men for the ballet troupe, so I was “volunteered” by the department head to suit up and hit the barre.

I learned a few things along the way, some of them pertinent to wine appreciation.

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