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A very long lunch

June 06, 2024 Tags: 0 comments
A couple of weeks ago I had lunch with a good friend of mine who loves wines as much as I do and over 7 hours we managed to drink 4 bottles of wines; we started with an Italian classic method sparkling wine and finished with a Supertuscan, passing for an orange wine and a French pinot noir that he brought back from France.

All wines were great, the lunch lasted 7 hours, or better, we were sat for 7 hours at the table nibbling and drinking, there were a lot of cheeses and charcuterie, there was olive oil, bread, artisan bread, and as we nibbled and sipped, our conversation naturally turned to wine.

I had carefully chosen the wines, I wanted him to drink something different from his usual choices.

After finishing the sparkling wine, I suggested the orange wine and I immediately noticed his face changing, he wasn’t too keen - he said he tried orange wine a few times before and did not like it - so, I said, if “you don’t like it, we’ll open another bottle”. Orange wines are not everyone cup of tea, I love them, but him, despite having said it was the best orange wine he ever had, it still wasn't keen on them.

We then moved on to his Pinot Noir, from a little known winery and finished the lunch with a bottle of Supertuscan, which he loved. As soon as he had a sip, I could see a big smile appearing, he loved it, and remarked that only when we are together he drinks "unknown" great wines, saying, "Only you can open a bottle of wine that I've never heard of and surprise me."

His comments made me proud, after all, the whole idea behind is to bring over little, unknown gems, but also made me think. It highlighted a significant issue. Despite his love for wine and his wine knowledge, my friend, like many others, tend to stay away from Italian wines.

In my two decades of hosting wine tasting events, I've noticed that people do recognize quality when they taste it, however, they tend to choose wines from other countries over Italy unless they're already familiar with the wine. Recently, at a tasting event, someone compared a Tuscan blend to a great Bordeaux, noting that it offered similar quality at a fraction of the price. The Italian wine industry struggles with a tarnished reputation due to the export of still too much poor quality wine, particularly to the UK.

Education is crucial. For example, I often stress the importance of serving wine at the correct temperature. Serving wine too cold can mask flaws, so wine drinkers should ensure their wine is served at the right temperature to fully appreciate its complexity. A friend of mine, who works at a local restaurant, recently received a complaint about a Pinot Grigio Rosé tasting "acidic" when served at the proper temperature. However, the same wine, served at 4 degrees Celsius, was considered delicious.

Italian and Spanish wines are often marketed based on price rather than quality —Chianti or Pinot Grigio are not all the same. Determining the quality of a wine can be challenging unless you're buying from a trusted wine merchant. While price can sometimes indicate quality, it's not always reliable, and you may end up overpaying. Additionally, wine medals have lost their significance due to the abundance of competitions and awards; almost every wine now boasts a medal. However, something as simple as drinking wine at the right temperature can reveal a lot about its quality, and we don’t need to be wine experts to do it.
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