|Our first glass of wine together|
When we returned to the States, Matt and I continued to meet regularly to eat and drink together. He introduced me to good wines, sometimes really, really good wines and great food during the next year and a half. It was quite an education for me. If I offend anyone with my next statement, I’m sorry, but beer has a very limited scope. It only makes a few foods really good. Pizza and brats and hot dogs at a ball game. Oh, and green olives. That’s it. I learned that wine can be like a magic trick; with the right food both things taste different…better.
During this same time I continued a friendship with the guide from the mountains here in Italy. He encouraged me (since I was planning to move to Italy) to find some wine tastings in Minnesota and start to find what I liked and what I didn’t. So I did, and discovered that it was actually fun and very interesting to try these different wines. I started to get a feel for what things appealed to me, and what wines I didn’t like. Our conversations almost always started with the question “So…what wines have you tried since we last talked?” I learned interesting things, like there’s more than one kind of grape and more than one way to make all those different grapes into wine. I found myself looking forward to talking to him about wine, although just a few months before this the idea of talking about wine would have made me laugh and change the subject.
My brother was excited that I was showing an interest in wines and now when he talked I actually listened (he is my little brother, after all). Dinners would be a chance to try several wines just to see what they were like. He loves to experiment, so sometimes things worked great, sometimes not. But it was always fun, and I always had some good impressions to take back to my conversations with the guide when it was over.
Ah, the guide. Life is a strange thing, don’t you think? Over the year and a half that it took me to finish things up in Minnesota and prepare to move to Italy I did much more than learn about wines. I ended up falling in love with the guide, Leif. Who just happens to be a sommelier. All those wines I tasted in Minnesota were just a preparation for living here, where wine isn't a special occasion drink but a part of every day life. Or maybe it might be more accurate to say that, for me, every day in Italy is a special occasion. And so began my adventure with Italian wines with a Swede as my guide.