Wine flowed from the bottles when we were in Italy like rain pours during the rainy season in the Amazon.
It just kept coming and coming.
And yet, not all wine is equal. If you are the remotest kind of wine drinker, you know I speak truth.
If you haven’t graduated beyond Boon’s Farm, grow up, go buy a decent bottle of wine that has a double-digit price tag, and welcome to the adult world.
After we visited a artisan coffee roaster in the morning,
we headed to a small organic winery where all the pruning is done by hand – woah!
To give you a minor scope of only one of the plots of land owned by this vineyard, and why the hand pruning is an amazing concept:
We learned about small wine production, saw the inner workings of the fermentation process, and saw the caves for aging the wine.
Seeing the bottling process was pretty nifty. I’ve done this by hand, which is tedious and time consuming, and always wondered how sealing was done on a larger scale.
I learned something new this day.
And then it came time for the tasting, which we were all excited about! Seriously, we’d been waiting for this all week for this – given the delicious food we’d been introduced to, we were expecting a similar wine experience.
How wrong we were.
If you’ve ever been to a wine tasting, you know you start with the whites and work your way to the heavier reds. You also know a tasting glass is perhaps maybe 1/4 the size of what you’d pour in a glass at a meal.
We were handed our first glass of chardonnay. I sniffed. I physically winced.
It smelled like petrol. Looking at my new Canadian friend to my left, I noticed she was curling her nose up, as well.
At this point, I knew it wasn’t going to be a pleasant glass, but I took a sip, holding out some slim shred of hope; glancing sideways as the so-called wine burned down my throat, I noticed several other ladies making similar unpleasant facial expressions.
I’ve been to more wine tastings than I can count at more wineries than I remember, and I know this – there are vessels set on the table for one specific purpose, dumping out the excess wine.
My glass immediately went into the vessel.
As I turned back to my friends, several were staring at me in borderline shock. I shook my head and shrugged my shoulders, actually asking, “What??!!”
As I’m saying What??!!, one of the gals who is a seasoned wine taster followed my lead, pouring out the remainder of her glass.
One of the gals who looked shocked that I’d poured out my glass whispered, I can’t believe you did that in front of the guy. <our vineyard host worker>
To which I replied in plain tones, The wine isn’t to my liking. The vessel is there to pour out excess wine if you choose not to finish the whole tasting, or if you don’t like the wine. Not every person is going to like every wine they taste. Wine, like color and music, is all about personal preference and taste.
Two of the other girls moved to dump their wine after I said this.
My friend kept wincing as she choked down the whole glass.
My seasoned wine tasting friend kept trying to convince her I was absolutely correct, yet she kept choking down the petrol-tasting wine with a clearly pained look on her face.
To each their suffering own, I suppose.
The next wine we were offered was a lighter red, and as I sniffed, at least I didn’t smell petrol. I foolishly held out hope.
The minute this wine hit my tastebuds, I scrunched up my face more than with the petrol smelling chardonnay.
And as if on cue, our Casa Gregorio host Patricio looked at me at this precise moment and asked, Do you like it?
I couldn’t control my visceral reaction as the liquid burned off the lining of my esophagus, only shaking my head from side to side. Once the searing red liquid finished its painful journey, I croaked out No, not really. I don’t like this.
The vineyard host looked up from his cell phone at me and shrugged. While it clearly didn’t bother him that I didn’t like his wine, his whole demeanor during out visit was one of lack of interest from the moment we arrived. He didn’t speak English – no matter – but when our guide was translating, he’d be looking at his cell phone and scrolling through social media.
After shrugging about my comment, he went right back to scrolling through his phone. He wasn’t engaged in his tour or his guests; he was on autopilot, and thoroughly disappointing as a human being.
I stepped forward to relieve my glass of its second round of misery. Three other people immediately followed my lead.
Through her own wincing, my friend gave me more buggy eyes that were basically saying I still can’t believe you’re doing that.
My other friend reminded her this was fine, this was a wine tasting, and no one was being rude by pouring out the excess of what they didn’t like. She simply reminded our friend, If you don’t like it, you don’t like it. Don’t pretend you do.
OK. Third time’s a charm, right? The final wine, and the heaviest of the reds, wasn’t a complete disaster like its two prior cousins. It was at least palatable, and I drank about 1/2 the tasting glass; however, it wasn’t a glass I wanted to finish, so like the other two times, I stepped forward again.
Maybe the three wines dumped together in the vessel made something??
No one followed me this time, but their glasses all ended on the table a t least half full, I noticed.
Our host was back on his phone, barely noticing we’d finished the final tasting, and I stepped forward to thank him for his time and tour. Everyone chimed in with thanks. As I walked out, the friend who’d given me the bug eyes stopped me outside saying we should at least buy a bottle of wine to say thank you to the host.
OK. If you’ve read anything about me on my blog, you know this for certain, I am a no bullshit kinda gal. And no bullshit was my answer here.
Conversation outside tasting room:
Friend: We should at least buy a bottle of wine to say thank you to the host. He gave us a tour, after all.
Me: No. I didn’t remotely like any of the wines. That’s a waste of my money, even if it is inexpensive wine. And in this case, it was inexpensive gross wine. Even if it was inexpensive good wine, you’re not obligated to buy after a tasting and tour.
Other friend: She’s right. This was a tasting, and under no circumstances do you need to buy wine after a tasting, especially if you didn’t like it. Our trip includes the cost of the tasting and tour. He’s been covered.
Friend: It’s rude not to buy something.
Me and other friend almost simultaneously: No, it’s not.
Me: You’ve not done a wine tasting before, have you?
Friend: No, but I feel rude not buying something.
Me: You’d be so screwed outta a lot of money if we did wine tastings all day at sub-par vineyards. It’s not rude not to buy. Besides, he was so disengaged in this whole process, I don’t think he gives a rat’s ass if anyone buys.
Other friend: We need to get you to Napa, France, or Tuscany, or anywhere where they do wine tastings. This isn’t wine. This was jet fuel, and even if it was the best jet fuel you’d ever tasted, you’re still under no obligation to purchase after a tasting.
<she’s my friend for a reason – we both shoot straight from the hip with our thoughts>
Friend: I’m getting a few bottles. I’ll give it to someone…
Me: That’s mean. Giving them that shitty wine means you don’t like them.
Friend: [gives me nasty stink eye and walks in to purchase a 2 pack]
Other friend: [laughing hard] I’m so with you on this one.
She ended up leaving the wine as a “gift” to the lady who took care of us at the final boarding house we stayed in while outside of Sienna. I told her that was mean because the lady was a gem. She said, Maybe she doesn’t have access to good wine.
I barked out a laugh, reminding her that Castello di Ama was right up the road – she KNEW and drank good wine every day.
My friend left the jet fuel pack anyways. I’m fairly certain the lady didn’t send a thank you note.
After bad wine, we needed food, and off to the lovely town of Atina for lunch and a brief walk around town. It was one of the gal’s reverse 35th birthday, and we got to celebrate with good wine and delicious food.
Even better, it was with lovely friends.
Our lunch was in this amazing ancient wine cellar, and the food and company were divine.
As we walked around Atina, we were afforded gorgeous views:
Cheers to wonderful new friendships and an incredible food journey (with good wine, this time)!
A few of my favorite pictures from this day which deserve their own moments of merit:
Mio fratello da un’altra madre. You do the translation.
Oh, Bacco (Roman god of wine, aka Dionysus in Greek), thank you for sharing your bounty this week. We love thee. Maybe a bit too much.
Best part of the day? We got Patricio to finally agree to car karaoke.
He wasn’t a hugely willing participant, like his younger brother Lorenzo was the other day, but he participated.
Please do take note of #TeamCanada in the rear of the van holding their own and adding so much to the whole process.
We love these ladies!!
P.S. Everyone agreed that Lorenze won the car karaoke wars…hands down. Who do you think did better? Lorenzo or Patricio above? Let me know in the comments!