I’m about to embark on a three-month wine sommelier course at Lucca. It’s not that I want to become a wine expert, but I want to move from knowing what I like to understanding why I like it.
My education in wine began with a husband who was buying fine wines at auction when we were so poor that I was scouring the Cambridge market to save a ha’penny on potatoes. At least I got to drink some superb wines, but it also made me lazy. I didn’t have to decide which wine to buy or which to serve with which food.
Since I started living near Lucca and organising my gastronomic tours eight years ago, I’ve learned a lot more. I accompany my clients on vineyard tours and drink a glass of wine, as Italians do, with most meals, which has made me more conscious of the effect wine and food have on each other. The wines range from humble family wines to exalted Brunellos and Barolos and from sparkling to sweet passitos. It’s been an exciting time for Italian wines. Winemakers have really started pulling up their socks and producing much higher quality wines. And I’ve observed the number of biodynamic vineyards in this area grow from one to five, with more on the way.
Still, my knowledge is patchy — a jigsaw puzzle in progress. You know how easy it is to complete the frame, but inside there are all those islands of pieces that remain stubbornly disconnected. This is my effort to fill in the gaps, and I hope I’ll be able to give you a few tips too.