Love at First Sip

By Nemo Hoti Studying abroad in Rome comes with a myriad of perks and delights. Such pleasures included enjoying a sunset from Castel Saint’ Angelo, strolling through the gardens of Villa Borghese, and making a wish at Fontana di Trevi. Yet my favorite of them all was dining in Piazza della Rotonda, overlooking the Pantheon, with a fine bottle of Pinot Nero.


Italians are profoundly fond of their wine and their love for it would inspire anyone living on their soil. For them, wine is not merely a drink, it’s a lifestyle. It’s something they take much pride in and could talk about for hours on end. Being immersed in the Italian wine culture for the time that I was living in Rome sparked my love for it.

When I departed Rome and moved to San Francisco to continue my studies, I thought I had to say goodbye to all the pleasures I experienced in Italy. But really, I was just trading one great city for another. The gorgeoussites, diverse culture and incredible food and wine were all there, but the feeling simply differed.

I remember one particular instance, where my friend and I ordered a 2007 Chateau Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon- a bottle hard to forget! I took a sip and it bewildered me. The first taste was enchanting, reminiscent of that freshman year in Rome. It was big and well balanced on the palate, with aromas of black cherry, black currant, spices, cedar and butterscotch. All of a sudden, I forgot about the date, and rejoiced in this magnificent wine.

That experience was only the beginning of a lasting love affair. It wasn’t until much later when I realized that the same winery had ultimately put California wines on the map back in the 1970’s.