Monday, April 6, 2020

Nurse the Hate: Thoughts On Cheap Tuscan Red Wine

Another night in house arrest.  I opened a cheap ass Italian red from Tuscany tonight, a Rosso Tuscano.  I have immersed myself in Italian wine over the last year for two reasons.  The first was I was painfully undereducated on Italian wines.  I knew just enough to be dangerous about Barolo, Chianti, and Amarones.  I got extremely lucky in my last big wine certification to have been asked about Amarone production, something that stuck in my head for no good reason like the song "Love Is Like Oxygen".  Had I been asked about Sicily, differences in key Sangiovese production areas or even locating Puglia I would have been screwed.  Sometimes things work out for me.

I did the IWC Italian wine course and have had to memorize a bunch of pointless wines like Vino Santo (a dessert wine almost no one drinks) and Grappollos (a nice red you are as likely to come in contact with as having a beer with Iggy Pop in a hotel lobby).  I tried to memorize obscure Southern Italian grapes, rivers, and soil types last year while almost having a mental breakdown and, not surprisingly, that didn't go very well.  As a result I have to score well on the second test which is focused on Northern Italian areas like Piedmont, Verona, Friuli and Trentino/Alto Adige.  I was feeling good.  I felt like I was back in control of my life and then Doomsday hit.  I don't know if it's possible to take on more stress then I have in the last two years.  When I get the inevitable stress-induced stomach cancer diagnosis sometime around Christmas, I will feel my muscles in my shoulders relax slightly as I realize I can just let the avalanche of shit bury me and stop struggling.  But before I do, I am going to enjoy this Tuscano Rosso on a Monday Night.

When I used to go to Italian Restaurants back in The Olden Times, I would usually order Chianti since I felt like it was sort of legit and I never knew what the other crap was on the list.  It seems crazy now that people used to just walk into buildings filled with other people and order food, often shaking hands and touching strangers before eating.  What a reckless age the 2019s were!  Thinking about sitting in a crowded restaurant now eating a plate of pasta surrounded by a swirling chaos of humanity seems as insane as participating in a bi-sexual orgy of intervenous drug users in Haiti in the 1980s.  Life comes at you fast.

Here's a quick lesson about Tuscan wines.  Chianti is sangiovese.  It's that annoying European thing where they assume you know what's in the bottle because they told you the region where it was made.  Here in America we don't know anything, much less where anything is located.  Ask someone to find Iowa on a map sometime and you'll see what I mean.  So in the area around Florence and Siena they make wine from sangiovese.  It tastes sort of cherry with a dusty tinge on the finish.  Chianti got very popular about 50 years ago, so the Italians did what the Italians do...  They tweaked what the borders of Chianti are.  For example if Cleveland made Chianti, one day when you woke up you were told that Akron is Cleveland now too and their wine is no longer "Akron Wine" but "Chianti".  Now the guys that were making a mint in what was previously recognized as Old School Chianti got pissed.  Thinking fast, the government said "OK!  You are now Chianti Classico!".  On top of that, there are a bunch of areas surrounding Chianti that grow sangiovese too. Sometimes the wine tastes better if they blend in a little cabernet or merlot.  They aren't "allowed" to call it sangiovese then, even if it's 75% of the blend or so.  The government insists it must be called "Red Wine" (or "Rosso").  So if you see a "Rosso" from Tuscany, it is probably a pretty decent little red wine for a Monday.

Italy is a really great place.  The weather is good.  The food is great.  The people are nice.  I feel badly at how the virus has walloped them for the iconoclastic tendencies of the people that make it such a wonderful place.  I had been planning to go on a little trip to Puglia with my favorite person in the world before Doomsday hit.  When I was losing my mind last year, photos of Puglia kept appearing, calming me almost like a tranquilizer.  I had been looking forward to sitting seaside at Puglia, having a nice dinner with the salty sea breeze in our faces... and enjoying a wine from Tuscany.


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