Last week, I attended the 2018 Vini d’Italia Experience, an Italian wine tasting event organized by the Gambero Rosso, a media company that produces a famous annual guide to Italian wines. The 31st edition of the Vini d’Italia "... is the result of a year of work by an expert team of 53 tasters who have travelled the country (including Switzerland’s Canton Ticino starting this year) visiting wineries, interviewing producers and tasting 45,000 wines. The book reviews 2,485 wineries and a total of 22,000 wines, noting wines of distinction with bicchieri (glasses). This year, just 436 Tre Bicchieri have emerged -- fewer than 1 percent of the wines tasted."
At the tasting event, which was held in Boston for the first time ever, there were 45 Italian wineries, offering about 125 wines for sampling. When you encounter so many wines at a tasting event, how do select which wines to taste? You probably can't taste them all so you need a game plan, an idea of which wines you will select and which wines you won't. This is a dilemma faced by both consumers and the trade at large wine tasting events. Hard decisions must be made.
Unfortunately, some people choose to sample the familiar, to taste what they know. At such an Italian tasting, they might stick to Pinot Grigio, Prosecco, and Chianti. They learn little from their experience, wasting the opportunity to expand their palates. They could drink those familiar wines at any time, almost anywhere. They might be their favorites, but that doesn't mean they couldn't acquire a new favorite. Only if they took a risk and tried something different.
Though there are over 10,000 known wine grapes, it is thought that there are only about 1400 or so in commercial production. I've probably tasted at least 400 different grapes, and I'm always seeking to add to that list. At the Vini d’Italia event, I found five wines with grapes that were new to me, quite a find. I tasted each of those wines because I want to expand my palate, to taste as many new wines as possible. I want to explore all the vinous world has to offer.
Of those unique grapes I tasted, most of them were produced by only a handful of Italian wineries, and in one case, by a single winery. Many of them were seeking importers, meaning the wines might not be available locally any time soon, if at all. This was a rare opportunity to experience these grapes and if you failed to avail yourself of the chance to taste these wines, you lost out. And as these were also delicious and intriguing wines, you lost out even more.
Stop just drinking the familiar. Doesn't it get boring? Do you eat the same old things all the time, never venturing out of your comfort zone to try something different? Be vinous adventurous and seek out new and different wines, broadening your horizons. The world of wine is much larger than Moscato and Sauvignon Blanc.