Saturday, December 31, 2011

Half empty or half full?

When you go to wine bars and restaurants in Italy (but I think in most other places also) and you ask for a glass of wine, the portion you get often looks like half a glass. If you receive more, you're either in an unclassy place where people have no culture for wine or you are just bloody lucky!

Having served tables for years in restaurants I've often got the dirty look from a client who maybe thought I was cheating them or being cheap! In fact, it would be completely unthinkable to serve half a pint of beer or a half a glass of coca cola - I mean, could you imagine the barman giving you half a cocktail Martini? Wouldn't you complain?

It's hardly the case to explain why wine glasses are not filled up to the rind, or simply why wine glasses have gotten bigger and the amount of wine served is no less than before. We all know it has to do with the pleasure of moving the wine around in the glass and benefitting from the aromas that are released thanks to the aerating done by swirling. So logically the explanation is that wine is a beverage that we enjoy with our sense of smell as much as with our palate.

So I smile when the question is asked by aspiring wine drinkers. But fact is that of course the first time you see a half a glass of wine you do wonder....

And that got me thinking of the more figurative "half empty or half full"...and how it applies to myself and the ones around me. Especially today - the last day of 2011 and we are looking back on a year either contently or thinking we could've done better or thinking perhaps that the world could've done us better. I think we all have a portion of each in us - it's all a matter of how you look at it - and essentially what you make of life.

I am so grateful for the events of 2011. My son was born. I married the most wonderful man in the World. Our business is surviving despite hard times. We and our families are healthy. My glass feels full if not overflowing...

And so this was a short and a bit unsignificant post, but I felt like saying a little something to toast to the beginning of a new year. Let's all set out with great expectations and goals for 2012 - hoping it be as full as we wish and doing our best to always see it that way anyways.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Winter in Tuscany

This year has been in the sign of the Tuscan Sun - I'm starting to understand why the Sun is particularly famous in this region. Born in the wet North and being rained on for more than 20 yrs of my life, the lack of rain this year has almost bothered my sun-longing being! The harvest of both grapes and olives was anticipated, the produce lacked water, no mushrooms have popped up in the surrounding forests and the few truffles that have been found are at sky high prices. Mistakingly I took my family to one of the Tuscan truffle festivals only to find that there was everything but truffles present at the festival. I was lucky to get a picture of the only truffle stand - and it wasn't exactly a bountiful find!

Our busy season is now over and we are enjoying a few weeks of relax and contemplation before the start of the new year. While the olive harvest is over in these parts, and our Olivoglio shipped and delivered for the most part, I attended a super interesting olive oil course in the town of Imperia (on the Ligurian coast, up by the border of France) which was week long and I've now become an official olive oil taster! If I were an olive oil lover before, now I'm probably an olive oil fanatic!

In fact, my idea is that we will create some special olive oil classes at the Tuscan Wine School for 2012:

While waiting for the cooler days to come and maybe even a few dark clouds, we're enjoying the wonderful weather and will be visiting wineries during this month to search out great wines for the wine school and to add the wineries that are great to visit to a second edition of the APP for touring wineries which is doing really well on Itunes. Here's a picture from last week that I have to share from the winery Montechiari in Lucca.

My project for this month is to work on an updated wine map of Tuscany as we've done in the past, but changing it considerably to make it hopefully easier to read and adding also the typical food products of Tuscany. Wine and food go together after all...especially here in Italy! But I won't preview you on that one yet...
What you can view is my friend Raffa's new logo for our web-site where we sell some of the wines that we love from the small producers around Tuscany:

Time to round off because I don't really have much more news (that I can share with you now!).
Happy holidays to all of you and see you in the new year with whatever the future will hold!!!