Thanks, Radical Cartography, for this borrowed map image, in order to show how Europe and the US have regional differences, base on borders.

As an employee of wine companies, I had the privilege of being a frequent flyer. There are only 10 of our 50 states I haven’t visited. They’re in the deep south and the Midwest… States with very little population, so I missed a lot of landscape, I know; but, I don’t know what I missed for their culture. The one humbling lesson that I learned from so much US travel is that each state has its own distinct culture, much like the countries of Europe have very distinct cultures of their own. It may not seem as obvious in the US; but the subtle differences have been developed, through their original settlers; and, traditions have still carried with us over the last 400 years. My earliest known relative arrived from England in 1622. The love of adventure, with many family members arriving in the 1600s, makes me who I am (a Yankee), and so I long for Europe… appreciating its history.

Now, through social media, I see new wine explorers, their faces filled with excitement and wonder, and I marvel that this is the one aspect of a wine career that we can all say, “Been there, done that, and love that as a writer, most especially, I become an ambassador.”

As I reflect back on getting out of the US and visiting Europe, my eyes were opened really widely. We’re living in such a small world, because of air travel. Those of us who are lucky enough to be given an assignment that takes us elsewhere… we’re really blessed.

[Purchased image ~ Copyright: schrempf2 / 123RF Stock Photo]


Take Portugal, for instance

Who, without travel, would know about the foods that affect the choices of what dishes to serve with which wines from that region? So, one’s culinary palate is also greatly expanded. In Portugal I learned about their wild “Black Pigs.” These animals – unlike the farming of animals that’s done in the US – is much more humane. Wild boars are allowed to roam in oak forests. They dine on an diet of acorns from the holm oak, gall oak, and cork oak. That nuttiness translates into something so delicious that it might make a vegetarian rethink a stance for a moment, if that vegetarian wasn’t always a vegetarian. (Bacon has been known to bring back a couple of vegetarians in my family, me included in the two.)

For those of us with European roots, getting back to where our ancestors lived and labored gives us a sense of place, a realization of our culture, a delight in all that’s new for scenery… bringing images that we’ve loved seeing via National Geographic magazines to life before our very eyes.

All of this still relates back to wine, because wine is a part of sitting together with new people whom we’ve just met; listening to their stories, while absorbing their environment, and trying to put it all into perspective… For the stories, always for the stories.

And, we grow

We grow in wine knowledge, we grow in accepting their passions as our own, and we grow in our humanities, our opinions, our acceptances of what’s different from who we are, while realizing we’re still all the same as human beings, all on a path to having some enjoyment in life. I was once asked, by someone who was trying to understand me, “What do you want in life?” I said, “To be happy, and that was based on a need for adventure, to broadening my understanding of life. Wine is the pivotal point, to that, interestingly; because of the people, their cultures, and the experience offered to be inspired once again, to write anew that which is old.

These are things I noodle around in my brain as I dream about Cesari Verona and #IAMarone.