“Open yourself up to what you don’t like. For example, you say ‘chardonnay- it’s okay, I don’t really like it.’ You think it’s strange and funky just because it’s the first time you’re trying it. Open up your palette.”
Alessandro Pepe, the brains and artist behind Rome’s newest wine and food tasting experience at Rimessa Roscioli, started our evening like this and I immediately knew I was in for a wild, tasty ride. Seeing as I am a person who has said those exact words about our well known chardonnay, I knew that Alessandro was going to indeed try to to change my palette. But what I didn’t know is that he would succeed in doing so.
An evening at Rimessa Roscioli
Alessandro is the lead sommelier at the private and group tastings at Rimessa Roscioli. He started his career 25 years ago after being invited to a wine harvest party. Anyone else relate to that, or is it just me? His esteemed partner-in-crime is bubbly Lindsay, a Michigan native, who after experiencing a wine tasting, was hooked by the culture and art of Italian wine and thus started her career.
Walking into the newly opened Rimessa Roscioli, I posed the question, “Am I in a friends dining room or a cozy tasting room?” The walls are lined with books about wine, food, and Italian travel. Scattered among the books are wine bottles and wine gear. For the opposite wall they’ve chosen maps of Italian wine regions, the purest form of art out there in my humble opinion.
7 Steps to Becoming your own Sommelier
If you’ve ever done a wine tasting, you’ll be familiar with the sometimes intimidating, never clear, and usually comical ways sommeliers describe wine. Alessandro, who had us laughing the entire evening (and no, it wasn’t just because of the eight wines) said something that will surely resonate with you:
“Sommeliers aren’t necessary. You know the flavors, so trust yourself.”
With these few words and eight glasses later, I felt like he had given me a new lease on life with the knowledge and confidence to describe and pair wine. In just a few easy steps, this is how the Rimessa Roscioli wine tasting in Rome taught me how to be my own sommelier.
1. Trust and cultivate your palette
“Our palette is a beautiful orchestra full of instruments. Let’s use them.”
I was never one to be able to taste the “cherry” or “apple” or “floral” hints of a wine. Tasting the wine at Rimessa, we were encouraged to share our thoughts about what we could taste. Our fearless leader Alessandro insured us that there were no right or wrong answers.
Consequently, we were bouncing ideas off the group and writing about what we tasted. As we were told to close our eyes and use the wine to create an image in our mind, it helped me find a friend in my palette, and we developed a very trusting relationship.
2. Master the art of pairing
“Fish and red wine don’t go? I’m going to prove you wrong.”
Ok Alessandro, bring it on. I’ll admit, my “knowledge” of paring was limited to fish with white, meat with red. I never thought about pairing moscato with blue cheese or fish with red wine. However, Lindsay and Alessandro taught me the sky is the limit.
3. Recognize you are in control
“Wine tasting is not just about showing off with your friends.”
Throughout the evening, Alessandro and Lindsay encouraged interaction- if you like it, tell us why. If you don’t like it, tell us why. Trusting our palettes means that my palette is not the same as yours. Therefore we are entitled to different experiences and preferences.
4. Vegetarians can pair just as well as meat-eaters
Vegetarians everywhere rejoice! Rimessa Roscioli catered to my vegetarian needs so well that at no point did I feel like I was missing out! Special vegetarian dishes were created to match the flavors of the wine while the meat-eaters were being treated to special, local meats.
5. Location, location, location
“Wine is unique. It’s tradition. It’s the taste of a place.”
I found out that there are 1,855 grape varieties in Italy. The majority of people only know about five. Appreciating wine stems from knowing where the grapes are grown and how the local climate helps to produce my wine. I try to support the “mom and pop” shops of Italy so when Alessandro said he showcases producers who are actively working against mass production, my trust in him grew even more.
6. Find a new vocabulary
Tannins, body, fruit, texture, aroma, acid. These are all words that we’ve heard in tastings before, but knowing how to use them is something entirely different. Rimessa Roscioli gave me confidence to not only act like I know what I’m talking about but to actually talk the talk.
7. Humor will get you far in life (and in wine)
You’re doing a wine tasting in Italy, it should be one of the highlights of your Roman holiday. Taste some of the 25 types of bread baked in Lazio and other local treats, discover new wines and pairing possibilities, learn to appreciate what’s in your glass and enjoy an evening with an international group.
Of all the things Alessandro taught us at our wine and food tasting, the thing that stuck the most was:
“Wine pairing is a marriage. Sometimes it’s beautiful and sometimes it’s terrible.”
Experience it for yourself!
Wine and Food Tastings are available every evening at 8PM. The price is 65 euros per person. Visit Rimessa Roscioli at Via del Conservatorio, 58 .
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