by Melinda Gallo

Degustazione dei vini in centro

I have never been to a degustazione dei vini (wine tasting) in Florence before yesterday. Iíve seen so many enoteche (wine shops) in town when I walk around, but have always felt intimidated to walk in for a degustazione dei vini. Yesterday I went because Iím helping out a friend create a specialized tour in Florence. We had been around town a few times to look at different enoteche. We picked ItalianLoves because another friend of mine opened it up and we liked the fact Lorenzo, a sommelier, works there. At 10:30 am we arrived to begin our degustazione dei vini. We walked into the enoteca and Lorenzo invited us to sit in the back area where they have a bar set up.

I am not a wine connoisseur because I donít drink much wine. I love a glass with dinner, but unfortunately it affects me a lot afterwards so I more often tan not pass on it.

Lorenzo started us of by pouring us each a glass of vino bianco (white wine), Pinot Grigio. He instructed me how to hold the glass and to smell the wine before tasting it. I was completely incompetent at distinguishing the different scents right away. Lorenzo spoke of the different scents that he smelled. It was intriguing, and I wished I could find a way to develop that skill.

He then told me to first swish around a small amount of wine in my mouth to wake up all my taste buds. He told me that it was important to know where I could feel the wine on my tongue.

I took another sip and this time was told to feel it in my chest. He said that the higher the alcohol content the warmer it feels. He then told us that we could eat a piece of pecorino stagionato (aged pecorino) and then have another sip of wine. The wine, for me, was much tastier after having eaten the cheese.

Lorenzo talked about the different grapes used by each wine, which eh could tell my seeing, smelling, and tasting the wine. He also told us how it was made: a barrique (oak barrel), steel vat or a cement one.

We then moved onto a vino rosso (red wine). We started off the same by looking at the wineís color in the glass against a white background. to figure out which type of grapes were used. He practically recited the recipe to us as well as what container it was in for the aging process.

When I tried the vino rosso without food, I find it less than spectacular but after a piece of salame toscano (Tuscan salami), my taste buds tingled with joy.

Lorenzo said that most of the vino rosso in Tuscany werenít made to be consumed by themselves, but that they really improve with food. This whole time, I just thought my palate couldnít appreciate a glass of vino rosso when in fact they are made to be consumed with hearty Tuscan food, like a bistecca alla Fiorentina.

Suprisingly after tasking two vini bianchi and two vini rossi, I wasnít even a little tipsy. Of course, I also didnít finish my glasses of vino so that must have helped.

We stayed at least an hour and a half, but I couldíve stayed even longer just to listen to Lorenzo talk to us about the different wines and abinare (pair) them with different foods. I was very fascinated and wish I could take him with us to dinner each time I go out. Iím sure Iíd never have a meal with a mismatched vino ever again.

I certainly have a greater appreciation for Tuscan vini now, and I am very grateful to Lorenzo for that. For my friendís research, weíll have to do a couple more degustazioni dei vini together. It was fun yesterday because we were able to taste a variety of wines from different cantine (wineries). Iím now thinking of taking my family to do a degustazione dei vini with Lorenzo. I know theyíd appreciate it and learn something new as well.

Share your comments for this blog post on the Living in Florence's Facebook page. Grazie!