Wine can be serious stuff- there’s so much to learn and taste and so many details about terroir and appellations to study…sometimes I have to really force my self to remember that in the end it’s really all about farming. At its core, wine is really just an agricultural product, conceived by humans to add joy to life, and pleasure to meals. Nobody celebrates this simple fact better than the Italians- for example, vino sfuso (vee-noh sfoo-zoh).
Vino Sfuso is literally “bulk wine,” which is exaclty what you think- but BETTER! Local wine, available to the public from various farmers, shops and wineries. The customer typically brings their own vessel in which to store the wine, and pays by the liter. Genius. Load up with a few liters of fresh, local vino goodness (for SERIOUSLY low prices), and enjoy a glass with breakfast, lunch and dinner.
We experienced the whole vino sfuso thing first-hand this year while staying with friends in Umbria. They had this gorgeous glass carafe (definitely holding more than a liter), hanging around the house. With 7 or 8 people in town to enjoy the holidays, I don’t know how many times Signore Pesce stopped off at the neighboring farm to refill the jug. When I asked about the grape varietal, the answer was a vague, “oh probably Sangiovese, maybe a little Sagrantino…” In truth I don’t think the Italians much care- they don’t expect vino sfuso to be serious or complicated. They just want to enjoy the wine, and know that it’s made locally. Sometimes even made from the next-door-neighbor’s grapes.
Vino sfuso is perfect with a slice of spicy-salty Caciocavallo.
The wine we enjoyed at Villa Pesce was so fresh and juicy- uncomplicated, full of the bright violet aromas and slightly rusty-earthy Sangiovese notes. Low in alcohol- probably teetering just around 12%- it was almost as refreshing as a glass of water. But a heck of a lot more fun!