Three wine aficionados share expertise

Personal and professional stories

Helen Farrell
April 10, 2019 - 9:50

Wine is a never-ending story. The more you learn, the more there is to absorb. I probed three of Florence’s wine experts to find out their personal and professional stories.

 

Coral Sisk

 

What’s your earliest memory of wine? Hating it when I worked at Trader Joe’s while I was in my first years of college, not understanding why people bought it: “What’s the fuss? It’s essentially rotten juice!” Then I lived in London and got over my disdain for it, breaking the seal with Pinot Grigio of all things.

What brought you into the wine world? Food! I was in between jobs a couple years before moving to Italy and I decided to enroll in a local community college while I figured out my next step.

I wanted to study something to do with my number one passion: food. So I put in “food” in the course program search engine and a Food & Wine Pairing Certificate Program came up. While attending, I applied for a sales position for a wine start-up who had a vision for selling local wine on tap after the owner had traveled around Europe and was inspired by vino sfuso. Shortly after, I moved to Italy.

The bottle you’d take to a house party? It depends where I am and the occasion, but in Florence I’d stop by Enoteca Bonatti for a prosecco col fondo, as the col fondo (an ancient style of unfiltered prosecco sur lie) is an interesting talking piece and you can’t go wrong with bubbles.

The bottle you’re aching to open? A 2010 Brunello from La Fornace. I’m debating whether to wait till 2020 or 2030. Probably will in 2020 since I’m extremely curious!

The most popular wine ordered by Americans? Other nationality-related quirks? Pinot Grigio and Cabernet, which I can’t hate since I broke my anti-wine stance with Pinot Grigio, but I really wish Americans would ask what other whites or local whites are being poured by the glass and just try it. Also, I really wish Americans would be a little more open-minded about reds and not just want big, bold, juicy, super extracted styles and embrace (or at least be willing to entertain) lighter, earthy reds.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to learn more about wine? Drink! And to make a rule to try a new wine every time you go out. Don’t be shy in asking the wine bar staff for recommendations rather than always ordering what’s trusty. Be willing to go to a local wine shop for wine purchases and not the grocery store. Talk to the staff and ask them for recommendations: they often love their job and sharing their knowledge. Make it a point to bring a new bottle home every week and make notes, be observant of smells and flavors, while looking up the producer/wine info. Attend tastings held at local shops, bars or wine tasting events/fairs around Italy. Taking formal coursework is a given in terms of learning, but I think the most fun way if you don’t plan to work in wine is to explore in more organic ways.

Your top wine tip for 2019? With all the alarms going off in the media regarding climate change, seek out small producers who practice mindful sustainable techniques in both the field and in the cellar. Organic is not enough, in my opinion. I’d be more inclined to seek out biodynamic producers who practice minimal intervention also in the winemaking process, meaning less additives and chemical stabilizers. To find out which producers make wine this way, ask your local wine shop staff.

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Coral Sisk is a food writer, certified Italian sommelier and holds a bachelor’s degree in Italian Studies. She is the founder of Curious Appetite Travel, which offers bespoke walking culinary drink tours in Florence, Bologna and small-producer focused wine tours around Tuscany.

 

 

Aldo Fiordelli

What’s your earliest memory of wine? It’s a simple memory. In the summer, my grandfather would prepare a glass containing peach slices sprinkled with sugar, to which he let me add a little wine.

What brought you into the wine world? One day, I poured myself a glass of some wine my parents had opened among friends the night before. It was Castello di Monsanto “Il Poggio” 1990. If that’s what wine is, I said to myself, I’d like to understand it more.

The bottle you’d take to a house party? A Chianti Classico. Taking a wine from where you live is always a sensible way of choosing a bottle to share. Plus, it goes well with almost everything.

The bottle you’re aching to open? A “Charlie” 1995 cuvée des millénaires. A Champagne for a much-awaited anniversary.

Nationality-related quirks you’ve noticed? Nothing comes to mind. I find that wine unites people. Perhaps we Italians place too much importance on aromas over taste.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to learn more about wine? The same things I always remind myself: be curious, inclusive and humble. You never stop learning about wine.

Your top wine tip for 2019? Taste some Bolgheri 2016; it’s one of the best years.

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Aldo Fiordelli is an independent wine journalist and food critic. He writes for Decanter, Corriere Fiorentino and Civiltà del Bere, in addition to being the Tuscany editor for Le Guide de L’Espresso (I Vini e I Ristoranti d’Italia). He has just published a book, in Italian and English, about bistecca titled La Fiorentina. Osti, macellai e vini della vera bistecca (Gruppo Editoriale).



Angela Saltafuori


What’s your earliest memory of wine? 
My earliest memory of wine goes back to when I was four or five and I would hold the funnel to help my grandfather re-bottle the wine he bought every year in two large damigiane.

What brought you into the wine world? I became more interested as a teenager when I would help my mother make wine for the family. We used to buy about 300 kilos of grapes from a local grower and used our garage as a cellar. Then, when I was at university, I started to work in restaurants and bars, and became more interested also from the drinking and pairing perspective. After a few years of working as a chef, I was offered a position to do wine tours and I decided that I wanted to know more and started attending courses to become a sommelier only to realise that, even after many years of practice since completing those studies, we will never actually know the full story. But this is exactly what intrigues and keeps me passionate: wine is an ever-changing thing from so many different points of view. I guess that’s what makes it magic.

The bottle you’d take to a house party? A bottle of prosecco.

The bottle in your cellar you’re aching to open? A bottle of Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2006.

The most popular wine ordered by Americans? Other nationality-related quirks? Bold red Riserva wines and Super Tuscans.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to learn more about wine? Take a wine tour to see the vineyards and talk to the people who make wine, to discover that this is not just a drink but also an insight into different cultures.

Your top wine tip for 2019? Play with wine and food pairings. 

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Angela Saltafuori is a licensed Tuscan wine tour guide and a certified Tuscan wine sommelier. She accompanies small groups to handpicked wineries, offering education and enjoyment as a result of her passion for wine. Join Angela at www.angelapersonaltuscantour.com and www.wineschoolflorence.com.

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