July 16, 2019 | 67° F

Tuscany travels test average college student’s taste for wine

Photo by Clarissa Gordon |

With the drinking age in America being 21, underage drinking is prevalent, especially on college campuses. It seems as though young Americans drink only to get drunk, instead of drinking to actually enjoy what they’re drinking. But that’s not the case everywhere.

During my stay in Florence, I was hit with a bit of a culture shock— In Italy, wine is consumed with dinner almost always, and the goal is to never get wasted but instead to have a beverage that compliments the meal.

On my last day in Florence, I took a trip to the Chianti area of Tuscany, the oldest wine region in Italy. There I toured several vineyards and learned about not only the art of making wine, but also how to appreciate it, too.

Beyond the boxed wine often offered at college parties, I didn’t know much about wine so the tours were definitely a learning experience.

The first thing I learned was proper wine-drinking etiquette: never gulp down like you would a glass of jungle juice or beer! Savor your wine— it’s best to gently swirl the wine before you drink to open the wine up to oxygen, which enhances its smell and taste. Then, lightly sniff the wine, as the aroma goes hand in hand with the flavor.

I also learned what makes a wine a good wine in the first place. As a college student, when I shop for wine, there are two things I look for: a cheap price and high alcohol content. While good wine is generally affordable in Italy, Lorenzo Moschini, a winemaker at Poggio Amorelli, stressed the importance of low alcohol content when buying wine.

Moschini said a high alcohol content means the wine is not elegant and contains a ton of sugar, which will only lead to a cheap taste and an even worse hangover in the morning.

The best wines are powerful but gentle and should give a toasty, almost perfume-y scent in the nose when smelled. The taste of the wine is everything to Italians, as it’s what they wash their food down with.

While this may be stating the obvious, the longer the wine is aged, the better, but even the wines only a couple of years old or even younger I tasted were delicious.

A drier, full-bodied red wine pairs perfectly with meat, and when looking for this particular quality in a wine, check the label—a higher acidity gives a drier taste.

With a view of the Tuscan hills and advice from a true connoisseur, I learned to appreciate wine and have gained a more sophisticated attitude when it comes to alcohol: let’s just say I won’t be settling for Franzia anymore.

Clarissa Gordon

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