Friday, August 8, 2008

Opportunities lost

In a very rare public confession, I'll share with you that I only recently started to drink wine. I'd never liked it, or, shall we say "acquired a taste for it". I drank it more or less by force in Rome last year, when I dined with the incomparable Tony and Bill at Dino and Tony's, a local restaurant near the Vatican recommended to us by our guide after the Vatican Museum tour where we all met.

The only thing to drink at this restaurant was vino. A red vino on tap, no less, and when you asked what grape or vintage you were drinking, the waiter said only "nuovo". I'm not yet fluent in Italian, but knowing enough to be the interpreter for the group, I knew that meant it's "new" and we loved it. Over the course of our nearly four hour meal, we loved it enough to forget that water, Diet Coke or Orangina even existed. And loved it enough to kiss our bald waiter on the way out of the restaurant, European style, once on each cheek. (Ok, that was me, not Bill or Tony, but I digress)

So since last November, I've dappled more and more in wines, sticking closer to the reds because "that's what I know...and like". And as time has passed, I've wanted to learn more and know more. In Paris I even branched out into whites, loving the Sancerre I had at one restaurant and the red of unknown origin at another. But I resolved to learn more so that I'd know what TO order and how to order it. So now I'm taking a wine class. And now I know what I've been missing.

You see, in over 20 trips to Europe, do you have any idea what I've passed up in the way of wine? I had not one, not two, but THREE private tastings on my bike tour in Tuscany. I had a lunch on the porch of a private home where they served wine the owners had made themselves. I visited at least three chateaus in the Loire Valley with my mother where she bought cases of the wine made there as I laughed. Wine as a carry-on (pre-9/11)? Surely you jest! And not once did I partake. In fact, on the bike tour, I was more likely to be found at the local gelateria enjoying 2 euro shots of Bailey's Irish cream and a gelato than sniffing and tasting wine.

So now I feel like I did when I "discovered" that I like Caravaggio and Rembrandt paintings. I remember all those museums I've already been to in amazing cities around the world, and never gave them a glance. I feel like I need to go back and make up for my short shrifting of them. And likewise with the wine. Oh, to have that sample at the chateaus.

I guess a little re-tracing of steps is in order then. Or I just make certain to make the most out of the experiences going forward and not let opportunity slip away again.

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