So on Tuesday evening, my two friends and I went to a wine tasting at an enoteca, Pozzo Divino on Via Ghilbellina. For 15 euros (about $18 USD), I thought we were just going to get samples of various types of wine, but we got SO MUCH FOOD and a LOT of great wines. If there are any wine lovers out there, I would really recommend this for your next trip to Florence. I think this experience was actually a bit wasted on me (ha).
Our host, Andre, warned us as we started that we would be "exercising our noses". He brought us to the wine cellar beneath the main floor and showed us around. The cellar dates back to the 13th century and was also used as part of the Italian prison system. It was so charming-- there were large glass panels that were carefully set on large wine barrels, which served as our table.
We started with Parmiggiano-Reggiano dipped in aged balsamic vinegar (which was SO sweet and delicious) and a small glass of local olive oil which was pressed just this past season. Andre knew SO much about the process and history of the vinegar and olive oil it made it all taste somehow even better (the olive oil was like butter!). He served us a glass of vino bianco, but made us swirl and smell and look at the wine before we drank it.
We eventually went through some delicious baked pasta, fresh bread, and some meat: salami, cured proscuitto, and finnochio (sp? The only way I could make myself remember the name is by telling myself that it rhymed with Pinnochio). Along with that, we had three glasses of vino rosso, a Chianti, a Dievole, and a Cabernet, all of which he made us swirl and smell several times before allowing us to drink. It was really interesting to have someone point out all the subtle flavors of the wine, which is usually completely lost on me. But it was also really so nice to attempt to use my Italian with such a patient listener and host!
And finally, nearly three hours later, Andre served the grappa... which was... interesting. Haha, my European friends who were already familiar with grappa LOVED it and were raving about how 'soft' and 'round' it was. And for me?-- I took one sniff (which was definitely a mistake) and nearly poured it out. Hahah, I politely sipped as much as I possibly could and then hid my half-full glass behind my wine glasses. It was obviously a really high quality grappa, but I really just COULD not do it. Andre compared it to sake as he poured it for me, but... it was definitely much much stronger. All I could do was try not to breathe and taste as I sipped the grappa with as much grace as I could possibly muster. Meanwhile, my Swiss-German friends are sitting with four empty wine glasses and their now-empty glass of grappa. Europeans: +2; American: -1.
(I don't have regular access to Internet here and I get a slow wifi connection at times, so I apologize for not being able to post as regularly as I'd like. Or put up as many pictures either! I'll get better with time!)
I find myself using the word charming to describe the lifestyle here. I think I'm slowly falling in love with this city. Florence is so much smaller than New York City, and already I can get around the city without the use of a map!