Posted: 2009-10-01

Wine Tasting and Cooking Class

During this visit, Chad and I had two wine tastings with our friend Claudio.  We met at Claudio’s house and then took a walk through the vineyards above Manarola, learning about the local wine-making process.  Then we visited a local wine-maker in his cellar.  The final stop was a wine-tasting meal at a local cantina with 3 white wines, a red wine, and a dessert wine with food served to compliment the wine. 

The line-up of glasses for the wine-tasting meal

The local production includes a dry white wine and a sweet dessert wine.  Red wine production is not common here.  This year, we learned that, due to the lack of rain and the way the grapes produce sugar, most if not all of the grapes will be used for dessert wine.

During a tour of the vineyards, Hans, Ginger and Chad listen as Claudio talks about the wine-growing industry in The Cinque Terre

A wine tasting tour stop at Luciano’s cellar - he gave us a taste of his muscato dessert wine

Grapes hanging in the window of Luciano’s cellar - the hanging allows the grapes to dry for 2 months or so which makes the sugar more concentrated for the sweet dessert wine

Ginger and Pryce check out an old press that was used to squeeze the juice out of grapes - today, the presses squeeze horizontally instead of vertically to get a better pressing

Bernadette checking out the fermentation barrels at Claudio’s cousin’s cellar - these 5 steel barrels are the extent of his annual production

In addition to wine tasting this year, Chad and Hans also took a cooking class with Claudio.  Ginger and I decided to let the boys do all the work, and we showed up in time to reap the rewards for dinner. 

The class included a trip to the farmers market in the nearby town of La Spezia, and we all made the trip.  Over the last 6 months, Chad and I have visited many markets across 4 countries, and the market in La Spezia is very good - fresh food and lots of variety.  Now here’s your homework assignment: go to your local grocery store and see how much fresh parmesan cheese costs, because it was 12.90 euros per kilo at this market (about $6.00 a pound).

Fresh parmesan cheese

Another vendor with sausage, cheese and meat

The market is open-air but it has a roof over it like a big white wave - ok, so you can’t really see the roof in this picture, but use your imagination

There is a whole row of fish vendors, all in these mobile yellow carts

We bought fresh anchovies

Claudio and Hans prepping the anchovies during cooking class

The anchovies were then prepared and served in lemon juice - the acid of the juice “cooks” the fish -delicious

In addition to the anchovies, the dinner included salad, home-made pasta, roasted vegetables, squid, and gelato.  It was an excellent meal.

-Julia Abbott



Envious doesn't even come close! This is the best experience anyone could ever ask for - so happy for all of you!


So why are there no pictures of Juli and Chad holding the sweet little baby Pryce... he's so cute!

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