My best friend in Baltimore forwarded me an email invitation to the Italian Embassy in Washington, D.C. It was hosted by Gambero Rosso, the global authority on Italian wine.

I was pretty excited when I got a return email that said I was accepted to the tasting. I even went out and bought a new outfit from Men's Warehouse. I had to go with the bow tie look. Two of my mentors in life wore them. I had to represent.

I guess it worked. I was stopped by a vendor upon arriving in the embassy atrium. She needed help. "Don't you work here?" she asked. Score one for the bow tie!

Several hundred wine lovers were in attendance, including distributors, wine shop owners and other media. I had the opportunity to taste more than 200 wines, if my liver would permit. Just for the record, I didn't come close.

There were many tables of award-winning wines from producers all over the boot. White, red, and sparkling. Many wines were familiar, having seen them on the shelves at Papa Joe’s or on the wine list at Vaccaro’s Trattoria.

 

Pope approved

I spotted a bucket list wine.

Enrico Serafino Brut Spumante Metodo Classico sparkling. That's the wine that Pope Francis popped open to celebrate his 70th birthday while flying on Air Pope One to Geneva.

I had been reading about this wine for months. I didn't think I would ever get a chance to try it. Usually, when you get your hopes up like that, you set yourself up for disappointment. I was not disappointed at all. In fact, I thought it was better than advertised.

You can’t find this wine in Ohio. So that was worth the trip for me.

My heart also skipped a beat when I came upon a table that had a white wine called Lugana. Hey, this wine is awesome, I told the rep at the table. I am very familiar with this wine, since I had written about it for Pulse a month or two ago. (Read more about the Lugana here: https://bit.ly/2S895Yj.)

Then I spotted one of my all-time favorite Italian red value wines, Amicone, at another table. It's a baby amarone, and another wine I have written about. (Read about the Amicone here: https://bit.ly/32fUVZN.) I might be on to something.

On my way home, I got to thinking. This was a tasting that featured some of the best Italian wines of 2018. We are pretty lucky to have restaurants and wine shops in our area that are always a step ahead when it comes to finding the next hot Italian wine. And I thank my lucky Italian horn for that.

 

Read more Phil Your Glass wine stories at www.ohio.com/akron/writers/phil-masturzo. Contact him at philyourglass@gmail.com.