it's a small world serendipity: vino forum roma 2019

It was mid-June during our eleventh Roman summer in the same rented attic apartment with a terrace view of the volcanic hills south of Rome in the distance, hills called the Castelli Romani  (Frascati wine country!) and a small park and quiet residential community in the forefront. Located on the slope of a hill leading up to Rome's second largest center city park Villa Ada who trees were sucking up the air below to ventitate with a pleasant breeze our otherwise un-airconditioned flat with a piazza in front of us below so no buildings blocked our view above, we were content with our morning coffee bar, corner bar/enoteca, fitness center, pharmacy, little markets and other amenities, including four passing bus lines connecting us with the university, the central train station, and central Rome including Trastevere.

Reading the free paper at the coffee bar one morning when  they were not all taken by other regular clients, bob spots an ad for a week long wine fair "Vino Forum" at some peripheral city park. This was not the first summer we'd noticed serious organized wine activity, but it was the first that bob decided it was time. We arrived by a convenient bus we'd discovered courtesy of Google maps and the Italian chip in bob's US smart phone, and were disappointed that all the snooty restaurant dinners were sold out, so we paid the 16 Euros apiece just to do the tasting. Food vendors were there to dine at anyway. We got a fancy wine glass and a cloth pouch to carry it around like a bib and our cards marked with the numbers 1 to 10 for the limited wine tastings. We quickly understood that no one cared about the cards, it was unlimited tasting and smoozing. As Americans speaking Italian (at least in our own opinion) with no Italian roots, we were a curiosity, so it worked in our favor.

cacio e pepe integralefavabeanpasta 

We loaded up with some pretty good pasta to soak up that wine. The only cacio e pepe integrale (whole wheat) we have ever seen (left), and a fava bean plus super-delicious ziti, courtesy of one of the sponsors, La Molisana pasta. And later a few other food items that called our names here and there.


At the third wine vendor as usual our American accents blow our cover as typical Romani and are asked where we were from. Philly is our response, so they call over Alessandra, the wine company's owner's bubbly daughter and junior partner. "I went to Conestoga High for a year!" (which is a high school in our own western suburb Main Line zip code), do you know Luigi and Erika?" Do we know Luigi and Erika? We think. Then it dawns on us, yes we do!

Two American wine novices at a Rome wine forum not really knowing what they were doing, and BAM, we run into someone who knows an Italian couple we had met at a dinner (Italians love dinners, even abroad) of some Italian pharmaceutical friend-colleagues on leave to GSK-USA for two years from Verona, 10 years earlier, but had somehow lost touch when our connecting couple returned to Italy. We had known then that Luigi, a biochemist, with some partners had just sold their small biotech to Big Pharma for a pile of cash, but we did not know that his best friend Carlo had used his share to go back to Puglia and realize his dream of becoming a wine producer starting from scratch. And of course Alessandra was close to Luigi and his wife Erika. She WhatsApp'ed Erika immediately and got us back into contact. Their wine was pretty excellent, given our limited ability to know any more than what tastes good to us. We are clueless wine drinkers, tending to build up our familiarity with Italian wines from our long association with the place, unable (unwilling?) to learn the finer points of describing wine characteristics.

bob-ani-vino-forum-roma selfie 2019

Well, it was a love fest for a short time, but Alessandra had to get back to business, and we on to taste more great Italian wine and have some terrific tasting pasta and other food items to absorb some of the alcohol. By the end of the evening bob was a bit tipsy, the first time in decades, but all we had to do was snag a radio-taxi and pay our way home. We had survived our first wine fest, and had an amazing tale to tell and retell to keep the memory alive.


  1. The dad:
    Claudio Quarta, Vignaiolo [website], a philospher science guy with a good heart and hope for a better future. From his website:

    "Three wineries, three different territories, a single objective: to produce wines capable of "telling" the South that excites. Respect for traditions and propensity for the future represent the compass of Claudio Quarta Vignaiolo is his project of reinterpreting wine excellence, with a fixed focus on research and sustainability.

    The wine-making history of Claudio Quarta begins in 2005, with the decision to leave the lab coat and a brilliant career as a researcher and pharmaceutical entrepreneur, to wear the role of the winemaker. Claudio Quarta does not simply become a producer, but gives life to something more: his cellars embody a philosophy, a way of being, of thinking (or rethinking) the earth and its vocations, traditions and that innovation which it is from always congenital. And there is also love for beauty, not only in an aesthetic sense, but as a lifestyle that becomes one in its entrepreneurial style, in the way of doing business and producing wines of the highest quality.

    The key to the wine world of Claudio Quarta lies in the osmotic relationship with the territories chosen for its cellars, not by chance historically suited to viticulture. There is the Salento of Salice Salentino and that of Primitivo, but also Irpinia del Fiano, Greco di Tufo, Falanghina and Aglianico. Autochthony is a cultural element even before being productive, in constant dialogue with innovation, from which excellence and uniqueness are born. Three cellars different from each other, but united by a formidable mix of art, territory, landscape, beauty."
    [Google translate.]

  2. The daughter: alessandra quarta (what a winning smile!)
    Alessandra Quarta, developer of the sustainably produced affordable and of course good tasting wine QU.ALE and the site QU.ALE & Thewinedemocracy to let the public choose to which nonprofits to donate a percentage of the profits to help make the world a better place
     [website, Facebook page, funny video].
    The eternal question "Quale vino beviamo?" (Which wine are we going to drink?). QU.ALE is the wine!
  3. La Molisana pasta company, a high end pasta producer and the official pasta of the Rome soccer team!
  4. A shout out to Francesco representing Varvaglione, another producer from Puglia, who chatted with us about his family and various topics while plying us with some also pretty terrific wines. Needless to say neither of these brands is on the PA State Store wine list. Not even at Total Wine just across the border with Delaware. And our old friend Laurent of the Princeton Corkscrew we used to patronize when we were DINKs (double income no kids) did not respond to our informative email!
  5. Y2K PA wine outlaws, now nearly two decades passed in our culinary/drinking history, still as wine ignorant as ever!
vinoforum.htm: 1-sep-2019 [what, ME cook? ©1984 dr bob enterprises]