I love a good, old-fashioned trade show. They are always an opportunity to reconnect with our colleagues in the industry, to meet new producers, taste new wines, and to educate new consumers. The Gambero Rosso, a guide to Italian wine, convenes every year in San Francisco. Yes, it’s a mad house full of sweaty, hand-gesturing, wine-sloshing people, but it’s also a kind of chaos I have come to adore.
Say what you will about the Gambero Rosso as a wine guide (other bloggers have done a far better job than I at exploring its various controversies and intricacies), it is still a resource with which we (as far as we are in California from the actual wineries in Italy) can learn more about Italian wine. For that I am always thankful.
I have noticed a subtle change in the past 10 years at these events. There has always been the same standard high-quality wine buyer- educated, dedicated, and more occasionally more knowledgeable than the producers themselves about the wines. It is a pleasure to stand behind the table and pour for these people- they usually have something to teach you. And then there is the general population contingent…
These events are normally reserved for the trade only, until a certain point where they open the doors to the general public. At that point, prior experience has taught me there is a general shift in the atmosphere. People are drinking more than spitting or tasting. They don’t seem as interested in where the wine comes from or how it’s made as they are about how much they can drink before the event closes.
I am happy to report, this was not the case last week in San Francisco.
People took notes. People asked intelligent questions. People were genuinely interested in the winemaking and understanding the geography. Is it the dissemination of wine education? Has the internet and the media been able to reach more people, and so people are generally better-informed? I don’t know exactly what has happened, but this was the best trade event where I have ever poured wine. I left feeling like I had done something good by being there to talk about my wines- not just done my job. Bravo, Gambero Rosso, for giving us this outlet- a platform from which we ca wave our flags for Italian wine.
I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to continually rediscover a genuine interest in Italian wine out there in the Ocean of Wine. If this is the sign of the rise of the celebrity-chef-restaurateur or the Somm, or if it is simply a product of a recently food-and-wine-and-cocktail-crazed media, I don’t mind. It really makes no difference.
I’m just happy to pour you a bit of wine and have a conversation about Italy.