Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Wine Tasting in Tuscany

On Friday, the school had a trip opportunity for a wine tasting. It was called 100 Vini (100 wines) and cost 10 euro. Regine and I decided to go. We met at the train station at 4 p.m. and rode the bus to a resort outside of central Florence. There were about 25 of us, mostly young students, but we are used to that.

Regine and I were skeptical that there would really be 100 wines. She and I had at separate times taken a trip to Chianti, and the wine tasting consisted of 4 wines. So we suspected there might be 100 wines, that you could buy or chose a very limited number to taste. Anyway, with that expectation in mind, we headed out.

The bus trip took about 20 minutes and was up in the hills surrounding Florence. It is a beautiful area with huge Tuscan villas like the ones you see in the movies. They have beautiful gardens and views, with vineyards and olive trees all around. The jasmine is in bloom in Tuscany, and the air smells so sweet, it can make you swoon. (or your eyes swell, if you are allergic like I am)

The resort was a beautiful old building with a covered patio where the white wines were, and 3 rooms inside with doors opening into courtyards for the red wines.

We were pleasantly surprised to find that not only were there 100 wines, there were probably 300 wines, and you could taste as many as you wanted! We arrived at around 5 p.m., and the tasting lasted until 9:30, and the last bus was out at 10:30. They had lots of samples of olive oil as well, and some cheese.

Regine and I both prefer red wine, but started with the whites and particularly the prosecco, which is an Italian sparkling wine. They provided us with a list of the wines, which you could also purchase, of course. The wines were categorized by the region of Italy that they originated from.

We sipped and chatted and critiqued the wines. We are speaking much more Italian together these days, but sometimes have a "mix" of English and Italian when we are having a discussion and don’t know the Italian words.

We moved on to the reds, and when we saw there were 3 rooms, we had to come up with a plan! Regine loves birds, so we decided to drink only the wines that had a bird on the label. This worked pretty well, but occasionally, we drank one with a tree on the label, (where a bird might have nested), or a house (where the owner had a pet bird in a cage). Mostly there were young students there, but we did notice some older men, who we had some things to say about (one with beautiful long curly hair, which I wanted to touch but didn't-REGRETS-he is the owner of the establishment that sponsored the tasting) and a younger group of men who were very serious about their tastings. They would swirl, and swish, and sip and take notes. They even poured a lot of the tasting out! We decided they must be choosing wines for a restaurant or something important.

We begin discussing our journey for the next day, which we knew we wanted to take, but had not decided where. We moved into a garden to discuss it, and the leader of our group came out to chat and see if we were doing okay. She asked if we knew how to get back to the bus as most of the students had left and she was on her way out (we really hadn’t noticed!)

We found the bus back into the city, and went for a pizza, then called it a night, with plans to head towards Bologna the next day.

We didn’t taste all of the wines, but as many as we possibly could! We decided that it was the perfect way to spend a Friday afternoon and evening and are hopeful that it is offered as a regular event at school!

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