It’s really quite simple.

It's really quite simple.

In all the lectures I’ve listened to and books I’ve read about the culture of wine, nothing is as important as this. If the names you can’t pronounce and all the different shades overwhelm you, remember to keep it simple; just drink wine.

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Solo dinners can be fancy too.

Just because you’re alone doesn’t mean you have to eat microwavable mush or order Chinese food. In fact, please don’t eat either on a regular basis. Especially since making a healthy meal for yourself to enjoy with a glass of wine can be extremely simple.

Let’s talk about portobello mushrooms. (Because really that’s all we should talk about.) You can buy them pre-sliced from any grocery store and they are the easiest thing to turn into a meal. They can be cooked any number of ways, but for simplicity’s sake, this is pretty much all it takes:

1. Open package.
2. Dump in pan on medium heat.
3. Sauté. (That means cook them in some olive oil by pushing them around a bit.)
4. Eat.

Now, obviously you can (and should) add basic seasoning to that. I like to add sea salt, balsamic vinegar, cracked pepper, and maybe a dash of Worcester sauce if I’m feeling extra fancy. Really though, portobello mushrooms taste fantastic with minimal seasoning because they’re so flavorful on their own. Dump the shrooms on a bed of pre-made salad, add some shredded mozzarella or parmesan cheese, maybe some quinoa for extra protein, and you’ve got yourself a healthy, hearty meal.

Of course, no meal is complete without it’s wine mate. For portobello mushrooms, which are fairly meaty, I would definitely go for something red and full-bodied. Maybe a nice Burgundy Pinot Noir. (Since you’re already going upscale with the mushrooms that have an Italian name, try really hard to avoid drinking wine from a box with this one.)

Here is one example of a very simple portobello mushroom recipe you can try.

Cheers!

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America has a drinking problem.

As I was listening to a lecture on Tuscan wine the other day, it struck me how deeply rooted wine is in the Tuscan culture. Shoot, how deeply rooted it is in the Italian and European cultures in general. It isn’t something you drink to get drunk or wash away your sorrows with while watching The Notebook alone on your couch. Wine is simply a part of life.
Says Carolina Zappa, an international student from Italy, “This whole getting wasted thing doesn’t happen where I’m from. I’ve had wine with dinner since I was little and it’s not a big deal.”
In Europe, the open relationship people have with wine promotes control, knowledge and appreciatio. In America the constraint put on alcohol consumption causes misuse, overuse, abuse, and self-destructive behavior. It could just be me, but something seems a little backwards about that.
 Edward LiPuma, anthropology professor at the University of Miami and avid wine drinker, discussed with me these differences in culture.

“There are more fast-food restaurants in Nebraska than all of Italy. People there are more willing to spend more on food and wine, on quality products, because they appreciate what they put in their bodies. Wining and Dining is a communal experience. It’s meant to be done communally and slowly. The Europeans have that down.”

That sounds so much more appealing than sneaking alcohol into your dorm room and getting obliterated, doesn’t it?