Playing Catch Up

Ciao! Sorry it’s been a while, wifi is horrible and we’ve been pretty busy. Monday was our first introduction to sensory evaluation of wine! We had our usual lectures in the morning followed by a lunch break, then came back in the afternoon to learn about the multitude of aromas that can be experienced through wine tasting and smelling. Despite the 100,000s of different aromas and compounds that exist, it’s not likely that someone can pick out more than two or three at one time when smelling a wine. We had the opportunity to participate in an activity where 28 different aromas (such as mushroom, citrus fruit, green bell pepper, grass, white pepper, peach, vanilla, clove) were placed in a glass of red or white wine. We had to sniff it, determine what we thought the aroma reminded us of, and decide if we enjoyed how it smelled. It was supposed to start guiding us to the types of wines that we would most likely enjoy; I racked up on Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Grigio, and a few other mature red wines. After our sensory evaluation lab, we had a little free time before dinner. We had to be ready for a field trip at 8 am on Tuesday morning, so most of us came back relatively early.

Tuesday we were up and on our way to Torgiano and Assisi by 8:30. We stopped by the Museo Del Vino (Wine Museum) in Torgiano first. The museum was once used as a wine cellar but has since been made into a wine museum to honor the past owners and their business. Torgiano was a quite town, but the walkways smelled like fresh flowers and I saw some amazing doorways (guilty pleasure).

[Painted pots that held medications and other medical needs]


After leaving Torgiano, we were Assisi bound just in time for lunch. Assisi reminded me a lot of Duloc in Shrek: castle-like buildings, large archways, and flags hanging from the buildings. Just like Cortona, Assisi is placed on a hill overlooking the valley. We stopped in a little café for lunch and gelato before exploring the winding streets a bit. Assisi was the birthplace of Saint Francis. While he was never ordained to priesthood, he was still highly followedand looked up to by others for his outlook on life, as he chose to live in poverty and took part in restoring rundown chapels upon having a vision from God. So for the last few hours of our trip to Assisi, we toured the Basilica di San Francesco which housed his tomb. The basilica was absolutely beautiful; I am always blown away by how intricate church buildings are in Italy. We left Assisi in the rain and got back to Cortona a litte before dinner, so we stopped by the little pub for a drink (and wifi). The weather was cold and rainy and pretty miserable, so we decided to come in for the night after dinner.

[Main Piazza in Assisi]

Wednesday was probably one of my most favorite days thus far. It started off as usual with our lectures and lunch in the piazza, then I went on a short run around the outside of the city walls before our first wine tasting lab! We tasted four international white wines this afternoon: a sauvignon blanc, a Riesling, and two chardonnays (one oak aged and one not). My favorite was the sauvignon blanc. For each tasting, we were told the producer, region, grape variety, vintage, and alcohol content, then we were to determine on our own the aroma, color, clarity, taste, body, and any other distinguishing characteristics. At the end of each testing we rated each wine based on how we liked it overall. I had such an enjoyable time that the two hours flew by. We were assigned tables based on our preference to bitterness (we had done a bitter taste test the previous day) so that we could converse with others that had a similar taste palette to us. We got out of lab around 5:45, so a few of us went up to the dorms to change before heading down for a happy hour at the pub before dinner.


[Wine aroma wheel, Tasting exam, & Wine Journal for sensory lab]



[Sauvignon Blanc (YUM), Riesling, Chardonnay (no oak), & Chardonnay (oak)]

Pizza, Beer, French Fries, Bruschetta and Wine

Our second day of class was short and sweet, two lectures in the morning then we were done for the day and weekend by 11 am. We went down to town for lunch, where I split a sandwich with a friend, grabbed some fruit from a little fruit stand, and finally got some gelato. After walking around and exploring the streets a little more, we came back up The Hill to the dorm. We had a little free time, so I went on my first jog outside of the city walls (where it is actually flat) to see a little more.


We went to an Italian class in the afternoon before cleaning up for a free wine tasting offered at the main wineshop in the piazza for anyone who wanted to try their newest wine. One of the restaurants wanted to throw us a “Welcome to Cortona” party, complete with free pizza, beer, french fries, bruschetta and a bottle of wine. The owner’s were the sweetest people, constantly coming over the make sure we loved the food and the town so far. They even brought out an extra pizza for us. We sat at dinner for a while, just hashing out embarrassing stories and enjoying the atmosphere.


Following dinner was another walk through the town and maybe a second gelato stop. We had plans to go to Florence today, but the train doesn’t run on Sundays so we are stuck in Cortona…..darn.

Culturally, I think one of my favorite things about Italy and their outlook on wine that I’ve learned so far is that they don’t drink it just to drink it, but they always pair it with food or a meal. You don’t see anyone with just a glass of wine. Our classes don’t just focus on wine tasting either, but the history of wine production, the different grape varieties, and how they are affected by the weather and climate of different areas across the world. Bet you didn’t know that one of the first areas that wine production was found in was actually Georgia…the country. Our lovely peach state of Georgia is also known to grown muscadines for the sweeter muscadine wine, though. Cheers to that



Under the Tuscan Sun

After an hour and a half car ride, 5 hour wait in the ATL airport, 9 hour flight to Rome, 5 hour wait in the Rome airport, and a 3 hour bus ride, I finally made it to Cortona! The view is nothing short of amazing, just the view from our bathroom overlooks the whole valley of Tuscany. Image

We had our first classes this morning, broke for a lunch in the Piazza (mozzarella, tomato, pesto and turkey sandwich), then came back for a short video followed by a foot tour of the town. The Piazza is where everyone in town congregates; restaurants, the market, wine shops, gelato, clothing stores are all located in this central area of town. We had our lunch on “The Steps” which reminded me of the not-so-catty version of Gossip Girl. Dinner was preceded by a wine tasting at a local restaurant where we have dinner every evening. Tonight we tasted a Pinot Grigio and a Brunello, which is a red wine and my personal favorite so far. Dinner was followed by a stop to the local (and one of the only) pubs, The Lion’s Well. The walk back to the dorms involves walking up a hill 4x the size of Brumby hill. I’m going to have a butt like Beyonce.



Testing, Testing

There’s really no way to make a “first post” not cheesy, so this is it. I leave for my viticulture and enology Maymester in Cortona in approximately 15 hours and decided to make a blog because why not? We’ll see what happens with this little space on the internet after June 3rd, I might decide I love rambling so much I’ll keep it up.

xo, clara