We were excited at the prospect of spending a day doing nothing but drinking wine! And were totally unprepared for both the magnitude as well as the compelling nature of this event. There were 12 HUGE–I mean, beyond HUGE pavilions, each representing a different Italian region and its’ respective wines, spread out over a massive area. Each pavilion had anywhere from 200-3,000 wineries represented–we were psyched and couldn’t wait to get to the Brunello di Montalcino section!
It takes alot to intimidate me, especially when it comes to wine, but this experience was a whole different ballgame! This was serious, very intense negotiations with wineries, exporters, importers, etc. All we could see was a sea of men in dark suits, engaged in wild Italian conversation, gesturing and drinking wine and (outside the pavilions) smoking cigarettes like crazy! Besides the fact that hardly anyone spoke English AND that we definitely did not appear to be in the ‘business,’ it was an overwhelming experience. We did manage to do some justice to some excellent wines (none of the brunello’s though.)
Another aspect of this event is the Agricultural Divison which did the same for Olive Oil as it did for the wines. Imagine 20,000 different kinds of Olive Oils under 1 roof! Again, this is serious business, and all the oils were sealed and airtight inbetween tastings, so that no oxidation would affect the flavor. I can still feel all the different notes of those oils…
It was a once in a lifetime experience; I was told that there were 146,000 attendees at this 4 day conference, and I was honored to be among them.