Postcards from Prato

Ashley Arminio

A Taste Of Tuscany

This weekend a couple of friends and I took a trip through Bus 2 Alps for a day of wine tasting in Tuscany, Italy!

Students in Italy enjoy wine tasting on a Tuscany hillside  (Photo by Ashley Arminio/Charger Bulletin photo)

Our first stop was Montalcino whom boasts some of the world’s most exquisite grapes. We were given a tour of the factory and wine barrels while given a history of the vineyard and what goes into making a variety of wines. We tried three different red wines ranging from sweet to dry, which have been sitting for 30 years!

My favorite part of Montalcino was the view of Tuscany. When I’ve imagined what Italy would look like, it was Montalcino, so everyone was excited to drink their glasses of wine outside with the view and take pictures. Following the tasting, we had the opportunity to buy wine and sample a variety of lotions that the vineyard makes with olive oil. It was so interesting to learn about all of the uses that olive oil is made for here in Italy, whereas at home I rarely ever use or think about it.

From Montalcino, our next destination was a local winery outside Siena, Tenuta Torciano, which was my favorite stop of the day. As soon as we arrived we all took spots at the tables outside and tasted local wines, such as Vernaccia di San Gimignano and Chianti Classico, while enjoying typical Tuscan appetizers and pasta.

The Italian waiter had a suave and comical sense of humor, calling us all “princesses” and demonstrating the Italian way to drink wine and taste all of the flavors. He explained that bigger wine glasses are better because you have more room to mix your wine without it spilling. You smell the glass of wine for five seconds, mix it again with one hand, take a sip and breathe in air—that will allow you to taste the richness and flavor in the wine unlike just taking a sip.

Our waiter also told us what foods to eat with what wine; for example we tried the white wine with cheeses and salami and red wines with our pasta. We were also given 30-year-old balsamic vinegar to try, as well as truffle oil to put on our pasta and the taste was unbelievable.

Our last stop was San Gimignano, which is a walled medieval town perched on a hill. The preserved medieval towers can be seen from several kilometers away and have become iconic to the city. We were able to explore the city and shops and try the best gelato in the world, Gelateria Dondoli, which was the gelato world champions from 2006 to 2009. You can tell it was amazing just by the long line wrapped around the building.

I’ve never been to a vineyard, so it was interesting to hear about the process of producing wine from seasonal grapes. I love that every time you open up a bottle of wine, or a bottle of vinegar after 30 years, you’re creating a moment and a story.