As both a new Junior Wine Portfolio Manager and a junior wine enthusiast, I have been extremely busy these past few weeks here at Italian Wine Merchants. My first two weeks as a Junior PM made me a student in the most intense crash course in “Wine 101” that I ever could have imagined. I learned about wines and their history and their production; I discovered how environmental factors influence wine; I was schooled in the art of fine dining service; and I grew to know IWM’s corporate culture. I’m a recent Finance and International Business graduate from Villanova University, and in taking this job, I’ve found that my mind has been inundated with a lot of information in a short period of time, all of which has been challenging to absorb, but also extremely exciting to learn.
Of course, it’s not like I never drank wine in my life. I have, and more than enjoyed it, I saw it was important. However, I can’t say I “got” wine. Prior to my wine exposure at IWM, I struggled with the complimentary relationship between wine and food. Cooking has always been one of my passions, so I can appreciate the use of wine as an essential ingredient. However, I couldn’t internalize the idea of wine as an integral component to a flawlessly prepared meal. This changed a few weeks ago at my first formal wine tasting.
Prior to the tasting, I told myself to abandon my uncertain and somewhat cynical opinion of how wine and food interact with each other. I had been schooled; I was primed; I was ready. But while I did my best to convince myself, my taste buds were still somewhat naïve and skeptical—until my wine epiphany.
All it took was a sip of the 2004 Ada Nada Barbaresco Cichin and a perfectly prepared taste of braised veal cheek with polenta to make me see the light.
In that white-light moment, I struggled to find the perfect words from the wine nomenclature I’d so recently been steeped in. But the only words that came to my mind were these: “Holy cow, that’s fantastic!” Just to make sure that this experience was something special, my skeptical taste buds and I went in for a second try. My mouth savored the tender and juicy veal cheek as it softened the tannins in the Ada Nada. I focused on the spices and fruit that the red wine had to offer; I had finally been struck by the beauty of a perfect pairing.
This “ah-ha” moment has transformed my opinion on pairings and has become another driving force for my wine curiosity. I not only find myself excited to taste wine, but also thriving on the experience I had. I look forward to opening my senses and my mind to a world of “ah-ha” moments as I cultivate the career—and the tasting journey—that I’ve embarked on.