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I belong to a an online group called Meetup.com. It’s a great site where you can click on your interests and find people with similar interests, then you “meet up” and do those particular interests. After I had a few basic words of Italian under my belt I decided it was time to make some friends here in Florence, so I checked out Meetup.com to see if they had any groups here and they did! One for expats, which made it even better for me since my Italian is sooo bad. I have since gone to a few events and they are always hosted by this great little Italian named Antonio.

My Buddy Antonio

My Buddy Antonio

I like Antonio he is so sweet and considerate and always trying to do fun things. There are usually around 10 people who show up and we go to movies and then out to dinner or out to a bar and sit around and practice our Italian and English with one another. Sometimes the meet ups aren’t that great and I think I will never go to another one again.

Side post here***
There are always one or two people who go and just complain and then don’t want to pay for their part of the dinner bill. There is no “splitting tabs” in Italy, it just isn’t done here, so generally you are supposed to split the tab by how many people are in the group. There is always at least one bozo who complains that they only had soup or a piece of bread and they don’t want to pay. Yet they shared in the carafes of wine and bottles of water! I also get hit on by the Italian men at these functions, as if it is a dating or singles mixer (which it is not) and after a few (what I thought was friendly) dinners alone with them, I realize that they want way more than a friendly date. I am just trying to make friends here and I have made that very clear from the beginning. I am not naive, or at least I like to think I’m not… ha! (That is another post all together.)***

The last meet up that Antonio posted was for a wine tasting class(?). I thought what the hell, sounds fun right? Wrong. I should have known that I probably wouldn’t enjoy myself because this was the post on the bulletin board:

A professional wine tasting with two of the Best Italian Sommelier and wine experts (Castellani e Bernabei) from AIS (Associazione Italiana Sommelier). 14 wines, Chianti Classico, Nobile di Montepulciano, Brunello and others from “A***** and G***** F***** T*****”.

The price is 20€. We are required to book ours spots so let us know if you are coming as soon as you can.It’s not a “social” event. We are required to stay silent, to seat, listen and to enjoy the wine. It’s a real wine tasting!

My idea of wine tasting...

My idea of wine tasting…

To me wine tasting should be fun. A place where you go and walk around and listen to the “professionals” talk about the wines and what makes each one different and why. This particular wine tasting was in a meeting room, in a hotel with harsh lighting and odd seating. I felt like I was back in California going to a class to keep my hair styling license current.

Not my idea of wine tasting...

Not my idea of wine tasting…

And, of course this was solely spoken in Italian, so I understood about half of what they were saying. Which is fine because this is how I am learning to actually speak Italian. And for all I know, the sommeliers did talk about what makes the wine special, and more. There was definitely MORE because the main sommelier had a lot to say about each and every wine. So much so, that I actually watched people nodding off and my doppelgänger highschool boyfriend looked pained at times just to be sitting there. (He looked at his watch about 6 times per wine unless he was doing the talking.)

Doppleganger highschool boyfriend on far right... Could he look anymore bored?

Doppleganger highschool boyfriend on far right… Could he look anymore bored?

Thank God that this event had a Powerpoint presentation attached to it. (I can read Italian much better than understand it verbally.) I never thought I would say this, but to be forced to sit and sample 14 wines is a bit much for this girl! I have been to wineries in the past and at the very least there is the ability to move around so you aren’t sitting there getting shit-faced, there is also food; nuts crackers, chips, chocolate, etc. We had 6 empty wine glasses, one bottle of water and one pack of saltines sitting in front of us.

After 8 glasses I started doodling... Not a good sign!

After 8 glasses I started doodling… Not a good sign!

It was all very formal, the “soms” were given their taste first and then the rest of us low-ly’s were given a shot. We twirled our glasses smelled the “bouquet” and swished and then swallowed! There was NO spitting at all! I knew that I would be swallowing all of my wine because I paid €20, dammit, and I was getting a buzz! The first wines were the whites of course. All I could think to myself was, “bouquet of old shoe.” White wine doesn’t smell that great to me. It never has but I sure like the taste of a great Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio on a hot day. After about 8 of these swishing and “swallowing’s” of which I wasn’t drinking the entire pour, people around me started getting restless and started chatting a bit more. Peeps were getting buzzed! Then, you would here a loud “shhhhhhhhhhhh…” from somewhere and the soms would get all indignant and carry on with their ramblings about the fruit or pepper taste of the wine. I found it fascinating that they wanted people to just sit there calmly “tasting” 14 wines and not comment on them.

Powerpoint at a wine tasting! How novel!!!

Powerpoint at a wine tasting! How novel!!!

C’mon! Everyone knows that after a glass or two of wine everyone gets a little bit louder…! We did the Chards, the Sangiovese’s, the Chianti’s and the Super Tuscans. We also sampled one called Pinot Nero that I had never had before and quite enjoyed! But by the time the 10th wine came around I was done. As was my neighbor and new friend Jon. It was at this point that Jon and I started making fun of people in the room. The lead sommelier’s face was red as a beat and he had about 10 minutes of something to say about each damn sip he took. People were getting restless and I feared a coup against sommelier’s worldwide! We started the first tasting at 9 and it ended about 3 hours later. By the time the 14th wine was served I was slumped in my chair and bleary eyed. When I got home, I literally crawled into bed and then woke the next morning with a HORRIBLE headache, and I had poured most of my tastings into the bucket!

Jr. soms waiting to go home!

Jr. soms waiting to go home!

I must say Thank You to my friend Antonio because he is always trying to make sure I am entertained and I cherish him for that! I can’t say that these are wines that I will be looking for at my local wine shop and I won’t mention whether the wine was good or not because it still might be fun to go to the estate and do a tasting. But, this is definitely the last wine tasting I will go to unless it’s at an estate or at my apartment… where wine is NEVER boring!!!🍷

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