Monday, July 21, 2014

Diana Zahuranec's guest post

Diana Zahuranec’s passion for food and wine began when she studied abroad in Florence consequently, attending a Master’s in Food Culture and Communication at the Slow Food University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo was a natural step. Today, Diana works as a journalist, translator and editor for Wine Pass, an online magazine about wine and wine tourism in Piedmont. Diana enjoys discovering new varieties of wines and particularly likes the Nebbiolos from Alto Piemonte as well as Piedmont's delicious craft beers.

Travelling with Wine Pass to Boca, land of Nebbiolo-based Boca DOC

Why aren’t more people visiting Piemonte? And why don’t more fine wine and good food lovers know about its wine and cuisine? 

Wine Pass, the online magazine I work for in Italy, and Turin Epicurean Capital part from the same question. This region, so full of cities, charming towns, incredible food and world-class wine, mountains and valleys, lakes and vineyards, culture and history and museums, is utterly ignored by many travelers. Virtually no first-timers to this enchanting country come to Piemonte. And yet it has everything the “popular kids” have (you know who you are, Rome, Florence, and Venice). 

It has everything except, perhaps, a clear (and English-focused) communication and promotion. Sure, it’s out there, somewhere, but Piemonte is simply not the sort of place to toot its own horn, at least not too loudly. It is an elegant and reserved region, welcoming to travelers who take their time to get to know it, but anything over-the-top is just not Piemonte’s style. That is where we need to give it a little push now and then.

I started working at Wine Pass, a new online magazine dedicated to wine tourism after studying at the University of Gastronomic Sciences (UNISG). Before, I admit, I didn’t even know about Piemonte. I must have seen it on a map during an Italian Studies class in college, but it made no impression on me. Now, however, I discovered an entire magazine dedicated to promoting its wines through traveling and experiencing its territory, and it made total sense. 

Because that is something that Italy just does so well: you eat and drink in the context of something – a dinner, an aperitivo, a friend, a season – and the dish you’re eating and the wine you’re drinking are grapes or recipes with their own traditions and histories behind them. Eating Italian food, drinking Italian wine, are rich experiences that are inseparable from each other and from what has formed them.

 In Ovada, they serve agnolotti  with a side of Dolcetto wine to be splashed in -- delicious!

Of course, I wasn’t thinking of all that between bites of agnolotti. I just gradually became aware of the vague differences between stuffing a sandwich in my mouth (with exactly x calories, counted) and a big plate of pasta with cream of white truffle and a glass of Nebbiolo – enjoyed after walking through vineyards or attending a local wine or food fair. 

The region continues to grow on me as I live and work here. For my job, I try to scope out all the little food and wine fairs that are going on in the region. Doing this every day, it’s clear that these are two major things that the Piedmontese are seriously proud of and love to celebrate. 

Visiting the Silva Winery in Agliè for Wine Pass, as winemaker Stefano Silva explains the fermentation

And then the wine here…it’s incredible! My wine experience only began with tasting classes during UNISG, and I am learning every day about the Piedmontese wines. It never ceases to amaze me how one label of Barolo can differ so noticeably from the next, when all that separates them is the hill on which the grapes were grown. Give me a big, tannic red from these hills any day over a fruity Californian wine. My tastes are completely Piemonte-focused (or, more fairly, Italian-focused). I guess that has to do with drinking 95% of TWI (Total Wine Imbibed) in Piemonte.

To be clear, I am no sommelier. I love trying to nose out a scent here or there, and I find the differences in wines during a tasting to be deliciously satisfying. For my job, however, I write more about the whole experience behind wine. There is an entire, centuries-old culture with interesting people, anecdotes, and histories contained in every bottle made in these hills. Remember: in Italy, food and wine are about the experience, not about the isolated commodity. So my writings can take me to the most fascinating of places to share with readers, encouraging them to visit and experience Piemonte in its most authentic way. So for quick but thorough backgrounds of wine cities, news, wineries and the Piemonte’s wine zones follow me on Wine Pass and help me get the word out there. If Piemonte won’t toot its own horn, we will for it.

Add captiFermentation in Ovadaon

Diana Zahuranec

Follow Diana's articles on  Wine Pass
and on twitter @zrdiana

1 comment:

  1. Great article! I agree! I have been and can't wait to go back. Great food and wine and my best trip out of the many I have had was topped with a great experience in Piedmont.