So, for this week’s #WinesOfItaly blab on December 1st I was at La Divina Enoteca with the owners Bianca Ciatti and Livio Del Chiaro in Florence. Livio was my guest for the evening, and I had asked him to talk in an easy and laid back way about how you do a guided wine tasting. To say something more about Livio, apart from his enoteca in the centre of Florence, he won the yearly Fisar competition for best sommelier of the year 2014. He is really good at in a clear and concrete way describe and make you understand the main aromas and other traits of a wine.
How to do a wine analysis
For this evening, we chose a bit different wine to not always choose Sangiovese or Nebbiolo or something similar. We thus had a glass of Eretico from the producer San Donatino close to Castellina in Chianti in Tuscany. It is a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Livio started talking about how this is an atypical Cabernet Sauvignon because it is aged in steel vats and not in oak barrels, as is usually the case with grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon. The refinement and ageing in steel vats which preserves all the flavours of the wine, without adding the typical woodsy, vanilla, licorice and black pepper aromas of the oak barrels. Instead, you feel more of the fruits, specifically red fruit and blackberries.
— La Divina Enoteca (@LaDivinaEnoteca) December 1, 2015
Then we went on to briefly discuss how when you taste a wine, you first observe the colour and its intensity. This can give a hint to whether it is a young or a more aged wine. Then you go on and smell the wine, first of all to check that the wine does not have any defects. Thereafter, you try to recognize the different aromas of the wine. Normally, you first try to distinguish the scents of flowers, fruit, spices, herbs etc. Finally, you then taste the wine to try and analyze the acidity, astringency, saltiness and of course, the most important thing, if you like the wine in question. The acidity stimulates the saliva, and the acidity is also what conserves the wine and makes it prone for aging. Other aspects of a wine tasting we discussed were the aftertaste and finish of a wine, as well as its persistence.
A questions from a fellow blabber
There was a question whether it would be helpful to have a wine aroma kit with synthetic aromas at hand when you taste a wine, in order to help you define the bouquet. Livio here replied that it can help, but that these sort of aroma kits are fairly expensive. He thinks that it is always better, if possible, to have the fresh products at hand and use it as a help to define the different aromas in a wine. Also, because the aroma in a synthetic product is quite different from the real deal.
The question of food and wine pairing
Of course, we entered the discussion of how to pair wine and food also in this blab. This also because one of the main tasks of a sommelier is also to know how to combine a suitable wine to the food you are having. Making it very simple one, of course, can say that you generally pair red wines with meat and white wines fish or vegetables. However, of course, there are many nuances to this as white wines can pair well with white meat and lighter red wines or rosé can go well with fish too. We also discussed regional wine pairings, and being in Florence, took the example of the Florentine steak which does not have a long cooking time. Thus, it needs to be paired with a red quite young, quite tannic wine with a high alcohol percentage, for example, a Chianti Classico or a Chianti wine.
Livio furthermore talked about how some wine producer in the North of Italy started producing white wines just some year ago, using the same vinification techniques as for the production of red wines. The result is very strong and a bit astringent white wines. These are wines that could be paired with, for example, grilled lamb or pork, i.e. not very fat meat. The other way around, Livio talked about red wines that can be paired with fish. For example, he referred to the Vermentino Nero and other red wines with little or no astringency, i.e, no tannins. This kind of wines you can match with swordfish, smooth dogfish or the traditional fish soup Caciucco from Livorno. Livio referred to how the wine pairing trends, in general, changing and you are starting to do more daring combinations. Here he referred to a wine producer friend of his who had done a wine tasting last year pairing Barolo with sushi. Actually, I discussed this too in an earlier blog article about Luigi Cappellini, the owner of Castello di Verrazzano, and his wine bar Spumantino here in Florence. He too said that it can be fun to try new combinations such as sushi with his Bottiglia Particolare (which is a wine in line with the Supertuscans).
Here you can watch the whole blab below. Sorry about the problems with the echo.
Hope to see you next Tuesday!
Written by Katarina Andersson.