Recently I was thrilled to meet one of my Facebook wine friends in real life: Carmen Russo. We both attended Kirk and Nicole Stinson’s 4th of July party and met, don’t you know, over wine. I had brought a couple of “picnic” wines, a French Rose and New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, while Carmen brought wine from her favorite Italian region, Montepulciano. She had quite a bit to say about the benefits of Italian over American wines so I’ve turned our meeting into an interview for Beacon readers:
Carmen, please tell us first about your own background and wine interests:
Growing up in Germany. and spending all my childhood summers in Italy, I learned very early on the secrets of winemaking because my dad’s parents owned some vineyards – as is custom in the southern part of Italy. On my German side, my grandfather is very passionate about wine, and we used to visit local vineyards at harvest times that are close to my hometown in the south of Germany.
Why do you say that Italian wines are better than American wines for those that suffer from headaches?
The winemaking laws in Europe are very strict in regards to altering the process and adding chemicals to it, like preservatives and sugar. The laws have been in place since the 13th century and are almost the same today. So what causes the headaches are mainly the added sulfates and/or sugar. Since the laws aren’t as strict in the U.S., there are a lot of ways to add chemicals to the wine than in the old country.
I know you like Italian wines better than American in general, why should readers learn more…what are they missing?
Well, there are good wines out here too, it depends strongly on the year. The big difference between Cali wines and European wines lies in the combination between soil, quality of the grapes, temperature and water.
Also important are the additives. For example in Germany the wine grows best on volcanic soil, certain temperatures in the summer and a very cold winter. I noticed Cali wines are very acidy in comparison to Italian wines.
La Chene would be a good place, and anywhere they serve international wines.
Eve Bushman has been reading, writing, taking coursework and tasting wine for over 20 years. She has obtained a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, has been the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video, authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and recently served as a guest judge for the L.A. International Wine Competition. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits that may be answered in a future column. You can also seek her marketing advice via Eve@EveBushmanConsulting.com