Traditional Wine making in Bologna

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Bologna is a city full of people so there is always a lot going on here and that’s what everyone says. Our program coordinators have organized a series of interesting events to better introduce us to Italian culture and lifestyle such as winemaking and tortellini making. In participation, I interacted with locals and asked questions to learn more about the city and the lifestyle here. What’s more, the hands-on experience in making these transitional Italian foods gives me a behind-the-scenes discovery of how some of my favorite foods are made and has me realizing the amount of labor and time to invest in making these foods. It was very fulfilling to enjoy the outcome after I had put in the effort.

When the weather was still hot and humid in Bologna, my fellows and I were led by our program coordinators on a hike, but we were all excited about the wine tasting later from freshly picked grapes that have been traditionally processed into wine. We got to the top of the mountain and were welcomed by the farmer standing in front of his vines covering the whole fields. We were immediately assigned into small groups and handed scissors and buckets to work on different rows of vines in the field. One or two of us cut the grapes from the vines and the other flowed to put the grapes into the buckets. Everyone worked collaboratively to harvest as many grapes as possible, which turned into a fun competitive activity for all of us that afternoon. We picked the grapes on our own and got to taste them freshly picked from the veins. The juice and sweetness surprised us and raised our hopes for the upcoming wine tasting. After finishing the harvesting, we gathered and reviewed our results. Every group did their best and we showed off our grapes with exciting group pictures.

The farmer took us to his winery and started setting up the machine to juice the grapes. As he dragged out a few crates and organized them neatly on the floor, he then filled them with water to begin the process. Everyone was confused before he explained that the most natural and traditional way to crash the grapes is to use body weight and step onto them. After he said that, everyone was a little bit disturbed because we were going to consume the juice into our bodies later but there were still people eager to try. They first lined up and stepped into the first four crates filled with water to clean their feet. Then, they moved forward into the last two crates filled with grapes to press them with their body weight. The unusual feelings they described and the movements they reacted to while their feet were in the crates made the rest of us feel like we also had done the same thing. In around half hour, we almost finished all the grapes we picked, and the farmer suggested we drink the juice we just pressed right now. He told us although there should be further disinfection and fermentation, locals like them often just enjoy this fresh sweet grape juice after their hard work. Some of us were rejective, but then some fellows had first-handed grape juice with extra substance.

At lunch, the farmer treated us greatly with authentic Italian food to appreciate our help for the day. He also brought bottles of wine that were made in the same process but last year to cater to us with our lunch. Everyone was sitting at their table and bantering about what happened today. This activity got all of us closer to each other once more.