Friday, August 29, 2008

"In Vino Veritas..."

This famous saying, attributed to the Latin poet Pliny the Elder, means "in wine there is truth." The traditional explanation being that a bottle of wine has an uncanny (and rather unfortunate at times) tendency to reveal the true hue of our emotions, which we'd otherwise prefer to conceal. We've all experienced this. After a few too many glasses, the gig is up and we have professed our undying love to joe schmo, or told our in-laws that we regifted that horrid cardigan at last year's White Elephant party. I, however, would like to offer a new and revised interpretation of this adage. What of the notion that a bottle of wine reveals to US its true "emotions," if you will? Haven't you ever confronted a mild and well balanced pinot grigio, a fiery tempranillo, or how about a bold and overbearing Bordeaux? Drinking wine is an intimate process wherein the grapes expose their terroir, or their special geographic characteristics, to us. Take for example, an Italian grape varietal known as Nebbiolo, (from which we get Barolo and Barbaresco). Considering the consecutive rainy and foggy days this week, it is fitting to discuss this particular wine. What truth is there to uncover in a bottle of Nebbiolo, in say, our 2003 Benotto Monferrato Rosso? For starters, let us dabble a bit in the etymology of the term Nebbiolo. In Italian, "la nebbia" means fog. Nebbiolo then means foggy. The Nebbiolo grape comes from the Piedmonte Region in Northwestern Italy, which literally translates to "at the foot of the hills". It is a region of castles and vineyards enveloped in a blanket of fog at the foot of the French Alps. Around harvest time, in October, a dense fog hovers low to the piedmontese earth. It is rumored that the grapes are picked in the early morning hours of the autumn when the dew from this fog covers the grapes. Hence derives their name “nebbiolo” from the nebbia or fog that blankets the harvests.
And so the next time you enjoy a bottle of wine, be it a red, white or rose, consider what truths the veritable vines might reveal to you...and remember that " aqua sanitas."

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