Vino, Anyone?

By Tena Elman

Let’s be honest… most students studying abroad are on a tight budget. With all of the signs around the city saying “3 bottles of wine for 10 euro!” it is hard to pass up. The last thing we think to spend a little extra money on is wine. But we are living in the best wine region in the world so we owe it to ourselves to try the best ones! Unless you’re taking a class about wine, most don’t know much about the topic- tasting it, smelling it, swirling it? Here is a crash course- so you can tell your parents you learned SOMETHING while you were over here :)

Let’s begin with the wine glass. It has been developed over the years to better enjoy the wine. These glasses are slightly curved inward on a stem. This is designed to warm up the wine with our hands and apparently the design of it releases the “bad stuff” out of the wine.

In order to start the tasting, it is important to use our sense of sight to observe the wine. Looking at the wine, observing its clarity, color and intensity are important to begin the process. Certain wines are darker in color, ranging from white to purple to red and dark red.

After observing the wine, the next step is to swirl the wine in the glass for 3-5 seconds. Once you are done, then is the time to smell it. The smelling is one of the most important parts of tasting wine with over 600 different aromas identified to date.

Once you have seen and smelt the wine, here comes the best part- the tasting!  It is important to sip only about a teaspoon to a teaspoon and a half. Then you are to move it around your mouth and swallow. It is important to direct your attention to the wine’s after taste. Here you may experience different tastes- for example the full bodied wine, an oakey taste, or a fruity taste.  After the tasting, it is your job to sit back, relax and notice the overall impression!

I have personally guided two trips this semester to Siena/San Gimignano and Montepulciano/Montalcino. These were great trips to bring students on because they learned a lot about the wines in each of these regions. In Montalcino, they are known for their full bodied red wine called Brunello. Students were able to sample this on our Taste of Tuscany trip. Also on this trip, students were able to taste Vino Nobile, the wine found in Montepulciano. Earlier in the semester, students got to experience a full lunch and wine tasting in San Gimignano. This town is known for Vernaccia- the white wine from the Vernaccia grape.

So… if your parents think you just partied and traveled for four months in Europe without learning a thing, now you can spit out some facts about wine and they’ll be impressed. Hope this helps, friends- ciao for now !

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