An Unexpected Tasting

This little wine tasting adventure occurred many years ago, but still seems like a fresh memory.  We were travelling with some other people in Tuscany and had found an 18th century palace that was available to rent.  There were only three of us, taking two rooms and we had the palazzo to ourselves.  It came with some lovely gardens and meals outdoors under a canopy.

There came a day on the trip when everyone had had enough of taking in the sights.  A lazy afternoon in the garden, with the sound of buzzing bees under the shade trees sounded just the perfect.  So after lunch, two of us indulged in a siesta.  But the other soon grew antsy and wanted to do something.  A little wine tasting at a vineyard we had passed the day before sounded very inviting.

San Gimignano in the distance, with vineyards all around it.  Photo courtesy of Artsy Traveler.

We had driven to nearby San Gimignano, the towered village between Florence and Siena.  We had passed a sign for a Bolla vineyard and made a mental note to return.  [This all happened long enough ago that San Gimignano was still a worthwhile tourist destination.  It hadn’t been discovered yet.  Today it is a medieval village that is overrun with tourists arriving by the busload and is better passed by than visited.] 

So the fellow who wasn’t interested in a nap took the car keys and set out to see if he could find that sign again. He did, but on arrival saw that the place was not a winery but rather for a family owned vineyard that the well-known Bolla corporation had hired to make a specific wine.  He drove in and found endless fields of grapes and in the middle of them all, a farmhouse.  There was no one to be seen in the vineyards or outside the house, so he wandered about a while, noticing that the vines were bearing fruit, all of which was white grapes. 

Wanting a taste of the wine that he knew must be made there, he figured his only chance was to knock on the farmhouse door.  It was opened by a woman who seemed rather confused as to why a stranger had appeared at her doorstep.  As she spoke no English and our friend little to no Italian, an explanation was not readily forthcoming.  But he had learned the work degustazione, roughly translatable as “tasting”.  Still seeming puzzled the woman, using a few Italian words and more hand signs, asked, “You want some wine?”  The fellow said, “Si, si”, so the woman led him into the kitchen.  There he found a few vineyard workers sitting at a table just finishing up lunch, looking at him rather quizzically.

She opened her refrigerator and took out an opened bottle of the Bolla wine made from their grapes, from a previous vintage.  Realizing he had intruded, the visitor drank up and figured he had to buy a bottle.  She reopened the fridge, took out an unopened bottle and handed it to him.  He took 10,000 lire (this was before the Euro) from his wallet, gave it to the woman and beat a hasty, somewhat embarrassed retreat.

Imagine how you would feel if some total stranger came to your door and haltingly requested a glass of wine.  You too might give it to him, just because you were so shocked that anyone would be so gauche and impertinent to even ask for it.

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