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  Cornell University

Cornell in Rome

College of Architecture, Art and Planning

Wine Tasting


An appetizer of cured meat and a cheese and fig ball drizzled with a balsamic reduction.
Photo by Esther Xie

As per usual, I had arrived a little tardy to the planned event of the night. My friends and I arrived in a room filled with excited conversation in large tables that combined both professor and student. At our table were three wine glasses per person all of different sizes. We learned about early sommelier tools and discussed the evolution of a pocket watch-shaped flask on a long chain to the modern day wine glass. It turns out I had been holding wine glasses wrong – the stem is not only for aesthetic and a spiteful fragility, but so that your body temperature does not harm the flavor of the wine.

Photo by Esther Xie

We tried at first a proseco paired with different appetizers to see how the flavor changes. At first I didn’t believe it to be anything more than pretentious fantasy, but I was very wrong. Our first pairing was with a crystallized lemon slice topped with olive oil and a small slice of herring. The tanginess of the lemon brought out the very tart flavor of the prosecco. We then tried it with bread which made the wine slightly bitter in flavor. Finally we had it with a few strawberries. This was by far my favorite. The prosecco tasted like soft bubbly nectar and clouds of gold, which isn’t exactly a flavor but it definitely was more nuanced than just “sweet bubbly”.

The restaurant owner shows us how to distinguish the color of wines
Photo by Esther Xie

And so we learned our second lesson, that wine pairs best in opposites. For a tart wine, you need a soft cheese or a sweet desert, for a savory well rounded steak, bold red wine, for fish- white and so on. Although I don’t have much of a taste for wine I definitely learned a lot and I left feeling much more confident in my ability to make wine recommendations in the future if asked and that for next Valentine’s Day, I shall ask for a hot bath and some prosecco with a side of strawberries.


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