This week, fellow expat and wine blogger (as well as a contributor to Wine Pass!) Valerie Quintanilla of Girls Gotta Drink tagged me in her post: A Wine Writing Exercise: What Wine Changed Your Life? #That1stSip, a 5-minute writing exercise about the wine that changed your life.
I knew which wine it was immediately, even though – funny – I had never though of it as life-changing before. I looked at the clock and wrote for five minutes on #That1stSip.
It was Verduno Pelaverga.
I don’t remember the vintage or even the producer, and it’s generally not a wine I choose for dinner. What stood out to me, in early summer 2011, was the first time I tasted something specific in a wine. Not something vague like “fruit,” or a general impression like “I like it!” (I was only beginning my wine journey back then!), but a single, clear taste: white pepper.
I had hiked up from Pollenzo to Verduno with a group of friends that day, as I was attending the University of Gastronomic Studies and we wanted to see the Langhe and Roero countryside. When we got to the top point of Verduno, a small town with one main, narrow street on a hilltop surrounded by vineyards, we stopped at a bar and sipped the wine. I was so surprised that this incredible wine is only made in this tiny town in Piemonte! Now I’m used to this tiny terroir phenomenon.
We took the bottle with wine glasses to a stupendous lookout point and toasted to the hike, before gathering wild rosemary (if you go to Verduno, take a look around the table set up at the bellavista, it’s so tempting to harvest it) and headed back down.
It was when I understood how many layers wine has, and that I had only touched the tip of the iceberg.
Both A Girls Gotta Drink and Academic Wino, who originally inspired the post with What Wine Changed Your Life?: A Brief Exercise from the 2015 Symposium for Wine Writers connect their wines to emotions. Mine follows a whole chain of memories about the day and how the hike went, the rosemary, feeling surprised about my first peek into the wine world. Really, before that it mostly just another alcoholic beverage, save the times we drank a nice bottle during the holidays. And just writing about it now takes me to other memories tied to that day, and how it felt so luxurious drinking a glass of wine in the afternoon.
I've said it twice and I'll say it again: nothing is better than a mid-hike glass of wine!
Now I'd like to hear from a couple other bloggers on this 5-minute exercise: What was the wine that changed your life? #That1stSip
Gabriele Pieroni from Wine Pass, La Pancia del Popolo
Suzanne Hoffman from Wine Families of the World
Alfonso Cevola from On the Wine Trail in Italy
Anna Savino from Italianna
Lucia Hannau from Turin Epicurean
I love Piemonte’s food and wine, the city of Turin, and my proximity to the Alps! My goal and challenge is to see as much of the region as possible using public transportation, but if you have a car I’d appreciate the ride. My intro to wine was at the Univ. of Gastronomic Sciences, and I love visiting family wineries, plus discovering Piemonte's craft beer scene. I’m hard-pressed to choose a favorite wine, but Nebbiolo never disappoints (from Barbaresco to Ghemme). As for beer, the Birrificio San Michele makes an incredible beechwood smoked brew.