The other evening I was at a friends house as our daughters played together. I accepted a last minute dinner invitation. My friend is from Piedmonte, from a small village called Briona in
Valtelinna the Valesia region of the Colline Novaresi. This is the friend who helped me get started making my own pizza (something I continue to attempt, never terribly well).
She made pasta for dinner, a type I'd never seen before, calamari-shaped. When I asked what it was called I believe she actually said "calamari." She tossed them in Sicilian pistachio pesto and topped them with a generous helping of aged Parigiano. This was a very delicious dish, by the way.
What a nice story! Many of us have imagined a world in which we leave our daily grind and become wine makers. Of course that's a different kind of daily grind, but why ruin the romance of the idea...
Anyway, we poured the wine and it was quite good - brightly fruited, snappy and refreshing with acidity, not terribly complex but aromatic and very lovely, and showing the structure that I suppose comes with the territory in Piedmonte.
"What grape is she using here," I asked.
"Hmmm, I don't know," my friend said. "She grows Nebbiolo, Barbera, and Uva Rara, maybe also Vespolina, but I don't know what is in here. Maybe it's Nebbiolo."
We chatted about our kids, about their schools, about upcoming travel, about new apartments, and NYC in the winter time. I had my nose in the glass and was trying to figure out what the wine was, but I'm painfully ignorant when it comes to Italian wine. "I think it cannot be Nebbiolo - it's too approachable," I said. "Barbera, maybe with some Nebbiolo in there too?"
My friend just smiled, and told me something about Sicilian pistachios, or maybe it was about how hard it is to get a good contractor for renovating an apartment.
There are many ways to enjoy this very fine and fascinating thing that we all love. It's good to experience these different types of enjoyment, especially the ones we don't typically engage in. I cannot tell you the last time that I enjoyed a bottle of wine so much, having so little idea of what was inside.