Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Native (Italian) American

As we get more science on exactly who we are and where we came from via DNA mapping, we often find out we aren’t who we think we are. In my case, I found out I am 51.6% Italian. I also found out I have a small percentage of East Asian and Native American.

Since my grandfathers and grandmothers came to America over 100 years ago, their descendants have multiplied. In a paternal lineage that will most likely stop. We will have had roughly 150 years of being in America by those sets of measurements.

What does it matter? There are 7 billion of us right now, a small portion of the roughly 107 billion who have been born on earth. Staggering numbers. Even more staggering is how each and every one of us thinks 1) we’re the center of the universe and 2) with a little luck we might not die.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Postcard from Naples ~ August 21, 1971

Dear Mom and Dad,

Italy, I finally made it to Rome The last week has been warm. Hotter than where I came from. Rome was miserable. And empty, save for a few Americans who actually had lire. Wartime in America. Nixon devalued the dollar the day I arrived in Rome to get more European countries to buy things from us. We need the money to pay for the war in Vietnam. And it looks like we are going into a recession that could last for years.

Naples from Rome on a train. Walking. I have a day before the ferry takes me to Palermo. I have a day to kill. I start walking.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wild Figs and Ancient Chants

From the archives ~ April 8, 2007

Fishermen from Calabria, Italy - Alan Lomax
I turn on the music, and Albanian chants from Calabria flood my jet-lagged skull. “We’re not through with you yet. Take this back with you. Forget about filling up your suitcase with brochures and bottles of wine. Forget about the ties and the shirts and the socks. Do not forget us.”

“We are the ancient, the local, the thread in the core of the soul of this land. Get out of bed. You’re not sleeping anyway. Wake up and hear the clarions calling like so many souls from inside you.”

I was sitting in a palace near Lake Garda talking to a woman and her husband. They had been living in Istanbul for the better part of their adult lives. Her childhood home was just downhill from the villa, but she, like me, had found another way, another place to call home. While we all come back to visit and stay, there are those of us who must return to a place not where we came from.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Vacating Italy ~ Ferragosto 2015

Odd how time reshapes things. In another era, one could not get anyone on the line, start (or finish) any kind of business or move anything in Italy during the month of August. This week I reached out to several folks for info. For the most part, I got a response within an hour. They may be on the boat in Corsica or taking a nap on a warm summer afternoon in Pontignanello, but they are responding better than they ever have.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Franciacorta's "little" problem

“I just don’t get Franciacorta,” the tall lady muttered to her friend at a recent reception. Her friend was pouring all manner of cool wines from Germany, Austria and France. Grower Champagnes chilled in iced trays, alongside Franciacorta. I wondered why she said that, but I was in full-introvert mode, and was in no shape to investigate her motives.

Friday, August 08, 2014

10 Years of Texsom ~ 2005-2014

It was the winter of 2004-5. We were sitting at a table, myself with Guy Stout, Drew Hendricks and James Tidwell. I hadn’t yet started this blog. Guy, Drew and James were months away from becoming master sommeliers. And they were kicking around this idea about starting a conference to encourage wine professionals from around Texas to become more involved in wine, in attaining certifications and in being better at their trade. That’s how I remember it all starting. Ten years later, Texsom is huge. Drew and James are still running the thing, but there has been a quantum leap in the quality, the engagement and the momentum of Texas wine professionalism and, indeed, wine professionalism from all over the country. Now there are scores of master sommeliers, masters of wine and other highly engaged folks from the wine trade who invade Texas at the peak of summer, to teach, to learn and to enjoy what it is about wine that attracted us to it in the first place.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Wine Spotting Selfies – Narcissism or Simply Sharing?

On the Social Media sites, Facebook, Twitter, Delectable and so on, I encounter a lot of images of wine bottles. Folks seem to love posting pictures of the wines they are enjoying. I wondered how folks in my world thought about it and posed these questions on Facebook and elsewhere:

What are your thoughts on looking at other people’s photos of the fabulous wines they are enjoying, on blogs, on FB, on Twitter, on Delectable, etc.?

1) Do you enjoy this?
2) Does this annoy you?

The responses were varied:

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