Smile #78 – Nice to Meet You, Tuscany & San Gimignano, Italy!

Nice to Meet You, Tuscany & San Gimignano, Italy!

Bubble and I aren’t huge wine lovers, but what’s a trip to Italy without at least one wine experience?

We booked the Grape Escape Winery Tour with Italy on a Budget.  A day trip to Tuscany and San Gimignano.  🙂

Our first stop is Tenuta Torciano, a wine tasting school.  A generational winemaker family that produces no fewer than 1 million bottles of Chanti wine per year.  Wow!

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Our host began by asking us to try the white wine at our table.  Everyone picked up the glass, swirled it a bit, and sipped the wine.  Horrified and amused, the host shook his head.  We were all wrong on how to taste wine.  Oops!  🙂

The proper way of tasting wine:

  1. With our thumb, index and middle finger of our dominant hand, hold the wine glass at the base of the stem.
  2. With our other hand, cover the top of the glass and swirl the wine.
  3. Immediately take a sniff of the aroma.
  4. Take a sip of the wine and hold!  Let the wine roll around your mouth for 5 seconds with white wine and 2 seconds with red wine.
  5. Finally swallow.  You can now make your conclusion about the wine.  🙂

I can’t wait to try this process at a dinner party and have everyone stare at me, the almost pretentious wine enthusiast.  What can I say, I learned how to properly taste wine in Italy.  🙂

We enjoyed 7 different wines including the famous Chianti Classico, Brunello of Montalcino, and Super Tuscan wines.  P.S. I was totally redfaced by the end of this.  🙂  We also sampled balsamic vinegar and truffle oil.

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Sidestory:  A lady walked around pouring truffle oil.  She instructed us to lay out a cracker on our plate.  She then poured a pool of oil on my cracker.  My cracker was totally swimming in the oil.  I had to literally shake off most of the excess oil.  However, the cracker did taste amazing!

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We were immediately sold on the truffle oil.  We also bought a bottle of white and 2 bottles of red.  🙂

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With our happy purchase, we headed back to the van for our next vineyard stop.  A local winery located in a stunning countryside.  🙂

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The winemaker’s wife gave us a tour of the vineyard and the cellars.  She shared the science behind the wine making process.  To avoid rain and too much moisture, grapes are harvested in September.  To produce delicious white wine, it must fermented in cold temperature so density and bubbles goes down.  It is quite fascinating to learn about the impact of each small detail!  🙂

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We tried 3 wines here, the famous Vernaccia white wine, a rose wine and a Chianti colli senesi D.O.C.G.  Easy choice for me, Vernaccia white wine is my favorite. The freshest and purest grape flavor persuaded me to make another purchase. Bubble fell in love with Chianti colli.  We ended up purchasing four more bottles!  We are becoming wine lovers!  🙂

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Mid afternoon, we were dropped off at a small medieval town, San Gimignano.  It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site!

We finally found a shop that sells authentic leather goods.  Unlike all the leather stalls in Florence, this shop actually had a leather scent.  Bubble was sold on a leather wallet immediately.  🙂

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The town is known for its many towers.  Apparently, towers are a symbol for power.  The patrician families who controlled the town built around 72 towers to symbolize their wealth and power but only 13 remain today.  We headed to one of the towers that overlooks the Tuscan fields.

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Of course we had to stop at the world’s best gelato shop.  The line extended out the shop.  With so many flavors to choose from, I couldn’t make up my mind.  I was bold enough to ask the waitress what is the best flavor.  She recommended honey.  A scoops of that please!  She is so right!  I loved every lick of it!  🙂

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An hour and 30 mins was just not enough time!  There were so many beautiful spots in this town.  The narrow streets, local shops, beautiful Tuscan countryside and world’s best geleto shop, can this place be any more perfect?!  🙂

Thank you Italy on a Budget, we had the most amazing Tuscany experience!  🙂


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