When coming to Europe a lot of people get excited about the traveling, the culture, the sites, the food, where as others get excited about the wine. Wine in Europe is very different than wine in the States. As someone who has grown up making wine with my Italian American family, and studied wine while in Florence, Italy, I can share the uniqueness and proper way to taste a wine and gather all the differences.
When you get that glass of vino placed right in front of you, grab the stem and lightly swirl it around. Making rings around the glass and watch as the remains fall to fill the glass. Check the arches that have been created. Look to see how fast the drips fall. The faster the drips fall to the bottom of the glass, the higher the alcohol content. Most wines range from 11-15% alcohol. The higher the alcohol content is, the higher value and the higher the quality of wine.
Right after you give that glass a swirl, feel free to close your eyes, and put your nose as close as you can, and take in the scents. Take a moment and get past the “it smells like alcohol”, and really gather what else is there. Many stronger red wines have chocolate, spices, smoke, or fruit for example. Whites tend to have more fruit, and sweetness, as well as floral, and freshness. Proseco, champagne, and other bubbly fancy after dinner drinks are definitely sweeter.
You have the alcohol content and the scents, now comes the fun part… pairing it with food! Most summer, light, refreshing foods i.e; fish, salads, and some desserts are good to pair with a white wine. Where as the heavier, more winter foods are good with a nice glass of red. Those include a nice steak, pork, stews, and even chocolate is better paired with red wine too.
Hopefully these new tips will help you when planning your next meal. For it is very important while in Europe to have the appropriate wine with the proper dish. Not only does it make you look like a real vino pro, but it will also enhance your eating experience! So get ready to enjoy food and wine in a whole new way!
Ready to put your wine tasting skills to use? Bus2alps is a student travel agency that offers day trips to Tuscany that include wine tastings and food pairings. For information on our Florence 2 Siena & San Gimignano day trip, please click here. For information on our Taste of Tuscany day trip out of Rome and Florence, please click here. Cheers!