I am well and truly ‘weddinged out’ at the moment. Having been to six wonderful weddings so far this year, I still having three more to go, all whilst planning my own wedding in June next year.
Oh who am I kidding? I secretly love weddings, especially when I get to go to the heart of Italy and drink wine from 9am until 5pm and eat practically an entire pig in the form of melt-in-the-mouth ham.
We were lucky enough to be invited to a small and completely stunning wedding in Umbria, an Instagrammable region of Italy north of Rome, where I smashed my way through countless plates of fresh pasta and glasses of sparkling wine (and the aforementioned pig, F-you clean eating brigade!)
As we were there anyway, we thought we’d make the most of the region’s amazing wineries, so we flew in early and went off on a classic Italian wine tour.
Umbria boasts some of the world’s most delicious wines, but it’s largely been undiscovered because of its famous neighbour, Tuscany. The region’s lesser-known wines include a deep red Sangrantino de Montefalco and white Grechetto (said with an unconvincing Italian twang).
I found them quite different to the usual New Zealand Sauvingon Blanc that I tend to drink in front of the television when it’s raining outside – they were delicious and unusual. What’s more, because they’re not so well known, they were a total bargain too.
What did I actually learn while I was out there, I hear you ask? In my true style, I listened intently and then forgot everything almost immediately, hence why I’m writing this so I can remember some of the useful stuff I learnt while I was there.
1. You’ve got to get your shnozz right in there
You can’t get a proper shnifter unless you rest the rim of the glass above your upper lip and again on the bridge of your nose and…get your shnozz right in. Also, once you swirl the wine, the liquid releases more aromas, there’s a practical reason for the poncey swirling.
2. Wine tastes better when you eat delicious snacks
Take a sip of the wine. Then eat this delicious cheese and then take another sip…it tastes subtler, smoother and altogether different to how it tasted before. Wine isn’t just for supping in front of Coronation Street on a Wednesday, it’s better to enjoy it with food.
3. It’s all subjective, it’s your experience
I’ve always nervously giggled my way through wine tastings, thinking I can just smell grapes and pretension while people are discussing the notes of peach melba and wood chippings they’re getting…but it turns out it’s all to do with your nose and your palate, and you can associate the wines with whatever you think it smells like. Yes! I can’t get it wrong.
4. Dessert wine isn’t completely rank
I have always hated dessert wine, thinking it’s far too sweet and pappy…but we tried eating some dark chocolate with high-cocoa percentage and then sipping on the dessert wine, and it was ludicrously tasty. At Christmas that stuff will be a hit with a chocolatey treat.
5. Provenance isn’t everything
Some wines just have bloody good marketing campaigns behind them, and that is all that differentiates them from other seriously good wines from other regions. I think I’d open up to try different wines from regions I’ve never heard of before as a result of this trip, because you can discover some really delicious tipples that way.
You can buy these Umbrian wines in the UK, but I’m sceptical as to how they’d taste without the warm sun bouncing off a glittering swimming pool, the light sound of crickets in the background, and the added bonus of being served oaky pairing cheeses by a gracious Italian host.
We went tasting with Gusto Wine Tours who were excellent hosts, and were well informed about all things vino. Tours are a maximum of 160 Euro, with discounts for larger groups.