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An Italian wine education A recently minted sommelier tries to improve my understanding


wineDrinking Italian wine anywhere — even in Italy — can be fraught with complications. Is that wine from the area in Piedmont known as the Langhe? Better not say so on the label, unless you have express permission to do so, or risk a fine. Labelling was one of the few topics I didn’t cover in an extensive conversation with Marco Lori, a sommelier who kindly agreed to be grilled. I’m somewhat in awe of people who seem really to know their wines, and so I took the opportunity to ask Marco to try and lift the veil. That he did, with great good humour. There is so much I don’t understand. Like, what exactly do wine people mean when they talk about the smell of green peppers in a wine? Try as I might, I just don’t get that. And the resurgence of natural wines. And I had no idea that careful winemakers go through the harvest bunch by bunch, selecting this one for their top-notch wine, that one for a slightly lesser version. So much to learn. So little time.


  1. Jeremy Parzen touched on the latest labelling madness on his website. Absolutely sweet winemakers, quoting Bob Dylan: “to live outside the law, you must be honest”.
  2. Marco Lori’s website is Off the Vine. Say I sent you; it might do us both some good.
  3. This is that wine I mentioned. I haven’t managed to find it for sale locally. Yet.
  4. Intro music by Cerys Matthews. I hope she doesn’t mind. I mean, I don’t mind her website playing music to me unbidden.