A few weeks ago, I wrote about how David can compete and defeat Goliath and some ways to do that from that standpoint of the small wine retailer. Last night I drank the Kool Aid and went ahead with being a consumer and attending a short presentation on Italian wines at a retailer that carries our Forty Winks brand (all domestically made).
I know nothing really of Italian wines and am not really even an expert on wines. Many avid wine drinkers know more than I do even though I love to make wine, consume it daily, and plan vacations around trips to wineries in the area. So when the opportunity to learn more about Italian wines presented itself I grabbed it and I'm glad I did.
Held at Madison Vine Wines, a wine retailer in the West Loop of Chicago, the two hour tasting was a tutorial on Tuscany and the wines that have made it famous. Most popular are Chiantis which are made primarily from the San Giovese grape.
Here are five quick things I learned in this short and informative tasting session led by wine importer Luca Ventre.
Tuscany has the second oldest operating winery in the world. Barone Ricasoli was established in 1141 and has withstood the test of time and the ravages of WWII and prior wars to remain a top Italian producer. Their top wine label retails for about $70 which is still quite cheap compared to equivalent wines from France or California.
Super Tuscan wines (a modern type of wine making meant to compete for high ratings from Robert Parker) can include Bordeaux grape varietals and can even be 100% Merlot.
In fact, a wine can be labeled a Chianti even if it has common Bordeaux varietals mixed with the San Giovese grape. (the proportions have to be in line with the DOC regulations). The DOC is the governing body of wine regulation in Italy. One should look for the Black Rooster seal of authenticity when buying higher end Chiantis.
We tried a dessert wine that was both sweet yet had a refreshing bit of acidity and nut flavors to it. The ABV was about 15.5% which kept it from being called a Spirit and the taste and aromatic profiles were much more interesting to me the Spanish sherries.
The cities of Florence and Sienna can be considered the North and South of the Chianti region for practical purposes. So if you are to plan a trip to visit Tuscany for wine country, keep that in mind and you should have a fun filled vacation with plenty of food and wine!
In summary, my point is this. The type of tasting and educational experience I had last night would not happen at a Big Box store where customers come to get cheap prices. Not only did I purchase a ticket to learn more about wine, but I went home with a bottle of wine and some food items that were more of a convenience purchase than anything else.
And that was money that Goliath won't ever get to put in his bank account!