I used to hate history lessons when I was at school. I just couldn’t see any reason for learning about things that had happened so long ago. And geography wasn’t much better. Why should I be interested in places that, at the time, I never thought I would visit?
Of course, I know better now – I’ve been to some of the places I learnt about and realise that much of what is happening today is as a result of what happened in the past. And, through my interest in wine, both history and geography have come to life – something my teachers could never manage to do. For example, the back label of a bottle of wine I opened recently told me that the Aglianico grape from which the wine was made had been grown in the Campania region of southern Italy for over 2000 years. But that bare fact hides something more: the name Aglianico (“alley-annie-co”) derives from “the Hellenic (or Greek) one”, so we know that, although the grape has been grown in Italy for 2 millennia, it was originally brought there across the Aegean Sea by early Greek traders. History and geography in a single bottle!
But, what about the wine?
Terredora di Paolo’s Aglianico (Waitrose, £12.99) has a typical southern Italian intensity and richness with attractive wild berry and cherry flavours and a distinct underlying acidity that helps it go so well with food – try it with grilled lamb chops. And, despite the warmth of Campania, the alcohol is quite restrained (13%) giving the wine a nice balance.
I’m sure my history and geography teachers would be proud of me now – I certainly gave them no reason to be at the time. But then, their lessons couldn’t explain things in my kind of way – through the medium of wine!