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Two Fun Ways for Wine Lovers to Learn More About Wine

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Calling all wine lovers.

Are you a wine lover? Oh, sure, maybe you like to drink wine. But would you say you’re someone who knows a lot about wine? Or do you leave that to the hoity-toity wine snobs? 

Wine is a topic that leaves many of us feeling intimidated. Personally, I love to learn about food and drink: whether it’s bread, coffee, or wine, I love to get back to the basics, and see how and why things are done as they are. I’ve recently come across two fun ways that have helped me learn more about wine, and I thought some of my readers who are wine lovers might enjoy them as much as I have.

Two Fun Ways to Learn About Wine #godfosakengrapes #wine #winetasting #winedinner

Here’s to learning more about wine – the fun way! Santé!

A Great Book for Wine Lovers

So, Wine Lovers: I’ve got a shocking fact for you!!!

Did you know that there are nearly one thousand four hundred (1,400)  known varieties of wine grapes on this beautiful planet we inhabit, yet 80% of the wines we drink are made from only TWENTY (20) varieties of grapes??? That’s not only shocking, it’s also kind of sad, when you stop to think of all the incredible potential varieties we are missing out on, isn’t it? I actually learned that through reading a book that was sent to me by  Abrams Books, as a member of the Abrams Dinner Party. (If you’d like to apply to become a member of the Abrams Dinner Party, keep reading to the bottom of the post.)

Two Fun Ways to Learn About Wine #godfosakengrapes #wine #winetasting #winedinner

Two of the books sent to me this spring by Abrams Books: Godforsaken Grapes, and the The New Farm.

The book I’ve really been enjoying about wine is entitled Godforsaken Grapes, and it was written by Jason Wilson. It’s a fascinating, and often humorously written account of Wilson’s journey to learn more about the many varieties of grapes that go largely ignored. His hope is to assist the efforts that are being made to encourage the preservation of many precious, and somewhat rare varieties of grapes. I adore the title he chose, too!

Wilson had me at the very first chapter, where he writes of a visit to the canton of Valais in Switzerland. I lived in Switzerland for a couple of years, and learned to love the delightfully crisp, refreshing taste of the wines that were made in the area in which I lived. Those grapes grow on the shores of Lac Léman, near Lausanne, Switzerland, an area immediately adjacent to Valais ,where Wilson was visiting. The Swiss white wines made there were especially perfect when served with the perch caught from the lake. While living in that region, I even got to spend a day working in the vendange, which is the grape harvest. I snipped those grapes right off the vine on a cold and misty morning, as my fingers grew more and more numb in the bone-chilling dampness. 

I don’t know if this is still true, or not, but at least while I lived there, the Swiss did NOT export their wine! They kept the good stuff all for themselves. In my opinion, that’s a kind of typically Swiss attitude. What they do, they don’t just do well. They do it EXTREMELY well. (Think chocolate…and watches…) They keep their heads down, enjoy their own wonderful wines, and avoid telling the foreigners what they’re missing out on. LOL! 
So, if you love wine, and would like to learn more about it, in a completely engaging and approachable way, Godforsaken Grapes is a really great book, and I highly recommend it. You’ll be entertained, all the while you’re learning what grapes can tell us about culture, and how domestic policies, geopolitics, and economics have changed what we drink.

Why I Have the Creds to Call Myself a Wine Lover

Two Fun Ways to Learn About Wine #godfosakengrapes #wine #winetasting #winedinner

This is Ernesto’s father’s wine press. It hails from Italy, but it now resides in Middle TN.

But maybe you’re the type of person who likes to learn more about wines in a more experiential way. I don’t know that I’ve mentioned this on my blog before, but for the last three years, my husband and I have been making our OWN wine! Talk about a delightful learning experience! We know a guy, Ernesto, who each year, orders thousands of pounds of Sangiovese grapes from California. When the grapes arrive here in  Middle Tennessee,  Ernesto drags out his Italian grandfather’s ancient wooden winepress, invites some interested friends over, and together, we make wine, in Ernesto’s driveway! This is either the truly organic, old-fashioned way (think Italy) or the redneck way (Think Middle Tennessee). We were invited to Ernesto’s driveway, because we know a guy who knows this guy.

And our guy has guest-posted several times on my blog before. His name is Denny Jiosa. Denny is  a world class jazz guitarist, but even more importantly to us as wine lovers, 😉 he’s also our wine guy. He has been for years. He knows and shares our taste in wine. When Denny makes a recommendation to us, we’re eager to try it!

Two Fun Ways to Learn About Wine #godfosakengrapes #wine #winetasting #winedinner

Making wine the old fashioned way is TRULY a hands-on process! If you really want to learn more about wine, there’s no substitute for helping make it! Just to be clear, those ARE Denny’s hands, and not Lucy Ricardo’s very long-toed feet. 

A year or two ago, Denny introduced us to a wonderful wine maker and merchant from Italy, named Eros Spinozzi. Eros was visiting Nashville promoting the wines he exports from Italy. He is the owner of a company that promotes the wines for a small group of independent vineyard owners in Italy. Eros’ company is called Cuore Rosso (that means Red Heart, in English). 

Side bar: Eros was the name of the god of love, love resides in the heart, red is the color of the the blood that flows through the heart, but also the color of many of the wines Eros brings to America, through Cuore Rosso. At least that’s the little trail of connections that my brain went trotting down, when I learned the name of Eros’s consortium. 

Two Fun Ways to Learn About Wine #godfosakengrapes #wine #winetasting #winedinner

Eros on the left, and Denny on the right.

The wines that Eros has introduced us to from Cuore Rosso AREN’T your typical, generic, well…more boring, predictable wines. They are each unique, and delightful, made with the quality and care and personal attention you’d find only coming from the vineyards of true artisans. Nor are they manipulated chemically, as many of larger name wines are.

How Does a Five Course Dinner for Wine Lovers Sound?

Two Fun Ways to Learn About Wine #godfosakengrapes #wine #winetasting #winedinner

This is the flyer from the event I attended, a five course meal and wine tasting that was hosted by Red Spirits and Wine in Nashville, TN, at Porta Via Ristorante. 

So, now that my husband and I have been making our own wine, I kind of feel like I can speak with a little more authority then your average wine-guzzling glutton. Not much, you understand. But…a little.

I’m thinking long about now, some of you are wishing like heck for a way to taste a few of Eros’ wines. Well, if you live in Nashville, I can hook you up. Many of them are sold by Red Spirts & Wine. So, my advice to you would be to get thee to Bellevue, and ask for the wines of Eros Spinozzi Selections. 

Two Fun Ways to Learn About Wine #godfosakengrapes #wine #winetasting #winedinner

Eros telling us about his wines. He was completely down to earth, easy to understand (for someone whose mother tongue is NOT English), and completely hilarious…and informative.

If you’d like an even MORE experiential way of learning more about the wines of Eros, this fall, there will be another dinner, just like the one I had the pleasure of attending a few weeks ago. I understand that this dinner was such a rousing success, that Red is considering holding more of these dinners in the future! I have to say, there’s nothing like having a winemaker, and the man who knows the wines you’re drinking better than anyone else, be the host of the meal, and talk about each wine you’re about to taste. Not to mention, having each course chosen by the chef of the restaurant, and specifically pairing each dish with those specific wines! 

Two Fun Ways to Learn About Wine #godfosakengrapes #wine #winetasting #winedinner

Eros talking wine.

On that note, just a few more pictures of the wines and the courses with which they were paired, to entice you. The chef at Porta Via did a lovely job!

Two Fun Ways to Learn About Wine #godfosakengrapes #wine #winetasting #winedinner

This Montepulciano D’Abruzzo was paired with a lovely wild mushroom risotto. “Bio” equates with what Americans call  “Organic”. There are lots of regulations to receive this label in Italy.

One of the great features of this dinner was that if you liked the wine you were tasting with a particular course, you had the opportunity, at the end of the dinner, to order bottles of that particular wine that you’d enjoyed, at a discount. I don’t know ANYONE who went home empty handed! And many had wines they could stock their “cellar” with for months to come. 

Two Fun Ways to Learn About Wine #godfosakengrapes #wine #winetasting #winedinner

At least one bottle of this Pecorino went home with us.

Pecorino is an early-ripening grape that grows among the Sibillini Mountains. Think of that area as the back of the calf of Italy – the eastern side, along the Adriatic.  Pecorino in Italian means “Sheep”. (Not cheese) The tradition is that the sheep in the region where this variety is grown, loved to nibble these grapes as they passed through the vineyards. Very few wines made with the Pecorino grape are exported. But it’s a wonderfully delicious, and affordable white wine! 

Two Fun Ways to Learn About Wine #godfosakengrapes #wine #winetasting #winedinner

This last wine, which was served with the dessert course of Panna Cotta, was truly extraordinary. I’ve never had anything quite like it! A few bottles of this went home with us.

The grapes of this wine, Losi Vinsanto Del Classico D. O. C.,  are attached by wire and allowed to air dry in the sun until December. The intensely concentrated juice from these grapes is placed in wooden barrels called caratelli. The caratelli have been around for 700 years, since the 1300’s. The wine is then aged in the caratelli for 10 years. You can’t imagine the amazing flavors in this extraordinary wine! It’s almost a holy experience. 

Right now, the laws of TN prevent Red from being able to ship wine outside the state. Although I do know that Eros sells his wines in a few other other states, quite honestly, I haven’t been able to ascertain a way for my dear readers to order them. But I’ve heard they’re available in most of the east coast states, and Texas, as well as Tennessee, of course. They’ll soon be available in Nevada, Colorado, and California, as well,  so I’d encourage you to at least look for them if you live in one of those states. You can find all the varieties they sell listed on Cuore Rosso’s website.

Two Fun Ways for Wine Lovers to Learn About Wine

Susan & Eros. Lucky me! Hey, this fall, it could be lucky YOU attending a dinner for wine lovers, sponsored by Red Spirits & Wine, just like I did. 

And if some of my readers are curious as to how I got a hold of my copy of Godforsaken Grapes, I’ve had the very great pleasure of being a member of the Abrams Dinner Party this year. I received advance copies of the cookbooks they were publishing, and I can’t tell you how much fun that has been. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve had an opportunity to see some of the wonderful recipes I’ve selected to try. If you’d like to apply to have a chance to share the word about their next year’s selection of brand new cookbooks, I’ll leave you a link to their application for new members,right here

In the meantime, if you enjoyed this post, please, share it!

Two Fun Ways to Learn About Wine #godfosakengrapes #wine #winetasting #winedinner #winelovers

If you’re a pinner, I’d love it if you’d share this post on Pinterest.