I mentioned on my own Facebook page the other day that I had a very inspirational meeting with an Italian wine maker the other morning and that at times, my job can be really cool. Even along with some struggles, it is a very cool job almost all the time. Mainly because I love working for myself and having the flexibility to be with my daughter, but also because I love wine. Yes, for the obvious reason of that I enjoy drinking it, but there is more to it than that.
As we tasted his white wine, a Tove which is probably a lesser know Italian varietal (well at least here in the US), he talked about the foods that would be paired with this unusual and weighty white…….sauteed zucchini in olive oil, sliced tomato with fresh buffalo mozzarella, or perhaps with a delicate vegetable puree or squash soup. Maybe it was the talk of this delicious food, or his Italian accent, but I started to really think about wine and what it really means to many cultures and how people experience it. Just then he said something that really struck a cord with me. His observation was that there seems to be this growing culture of wine “geeks” if you will – and a lot of discussion/dissection of wines, the flavors, the scores, the name and hype of the wine maker. He made one comment that has been lingering in my mind about how he hopes that his wine is consumed and enjoyed. As he explained, in Italy, the wine is placed on the table and surrounded by wonderful food and as you sit there with your group of friends or family members, you drink, and talk and eat and enjoy, and maybe at some point you take a look at the label on the bottle and notice the wine maker or winery and say “hey, this guy, he makes some really good wine”. So in essence, it’s not about the tv ads, the money put behind the winery marketing or the status of the wine maker. It’s about enjoying a great bottle of wine, delicious food, and the company of great people that makes drinking wine the experience that is more than just having an adult beverage.
The conversation made me think back to a very special night in my life. For those that don’t know, my family (parents) immigrated here from Serbia in the 1970’s and most of my family still lives there including my grandparents at the time. Jason, my now husband and I took a trip there back in 2007 when we were first engaged so that he could meet my family. My dad accompanied us on the trip and threw us an engagement dinner while we were there. It was a pretty emotional and momentous occasion because my grandfather was unable to make the trip to the States for the wedding day so this was our only celebration with him. We had a wonderful dinner with my family at a small restaurant that sits down on the bank of the Danube river. Everyone had wonderful meals of fresh seafood, bread, and local specialties. There was a folk band performing at the restaurant that evening and (after much tipping) they stayed at our table side playing and singing all night. Many, many bottles of wine were opened at that table, mostly red, not what you would typically chose with seafood, and none of which I remember the name or label. I do remember that the wine was excellent. It was so delicious, as was the food and the music and the amazing memory I have of celebrating with three most influential and special men in my life, my dad, my husband and my grandfather. I will never remember or care about what wine we had – only that it played a part in the great memory of that night.
I am definitely not saying that we shouldn’t get excited about a new wine that is releasing – hell, its part of my job to get excited about things like that because many people buy and enjoy wine based on these things. But I think overall for me, I am realizing that my love affair with wine has less to do with the winemaker or the vintage – and more to do with experience and memories. I guess the hope is that for many of you out there, you will find that wine has built or shared in the building of lasting memories too.