#FoodFiction: “RiRi’s Rosato”


Questo racconto è il risultato della collaborazione tra SapereFood e Umbra Institute. Dopo aver visitato alcune importanti aziende della regione, gli studenti hanno scritto delle storie di fantasia sperimentando il “product placement”, ovvero l’inserimento di un marchio all’interno della narrazione.

by Emma Ruhl

Inspired by a visit to Le Cimate Winery

October 2015

It was 2015 and Maria was twenty-two years old. She had just started her first year at Columbia University graduate school. Maria came from a small town in Wisconsin where she lived with her brother, sister, mother, father, and grandmother. Her grandmother had moved in with her family and her after her grandfather died a few years back. Family was extremely important to Maria, so it was always difficult not to be with them. She had followed her boyfriend to New York, as any love struck young woman would do. But as time went on, Maria yearned for the comfort and security that her family provided for her. Her life was a blur and she felt suffocated by the commotion of the city. All she wanted was to see her family again. One morning, Maria was woken up by a knock on her door. As she opened the door, she noticed a package with a note attached to it. On the note read “For my dearest Maria.” Maria ripped open the package and saw the bottle of wine with a big red ribbon tied around it. She knew immediately whom it was from, her grandmother.

Maria’s grandmother, Rosa or RiRi as they called her, was from Umbria and immigrated to the United States when she was in her twenties. She loved the traditions and the cultural customs of Italy, so it was important for her to keep that alive. Maria’s grandmother loved wine. She loved the taste, the texture, and the smell of it. It was the cornerstone of her family and her cultural being growing up. To every family event, Maria’s grandmother always brought a favorite bottle, whether it was white or red. With the wine always came a story of the history of the wine and why it was special to her, which gave new meaning and new perspective for her family. Over the years, wine had become a symbol of togetherness and union. For Maria, it represented family. So as she opened the door and saw the bottle with the shinning red ribbon, Maria was filled with excitement. She was filled with a sense of home, which was something she hadn’t felt in quite a while. Her grandmother always knew what Maria needed and when she needed it, the two of them were extremely close.

*  *  *

It had been a long and exhausting day, and Maria missed her family now more than ever. She remembered that the bottle of wine her grandmother had sent her was still in her closet, where she had kept it for safekeeping. Maria tore off the shinning red ribbon and threw it to the ground. As she was doing so, she noticed something rather peculiar. She had never seen this type of wine before. It was a rosé, which was a different wine from her grandmother’s typical Italian white and reds. For a moment she was confused, but as she popped off the cork and poured herself a glass, she saw something that amazed her. She was mesmerized by the cherry pink color of the wine and how it almost sparkled as she poured it into the glass. It was so clear and dense, yet smooth and fluid. Maria did not know what to expect, even so this ambiguity intrigued her. She took the first sip and instantly her world was turned around. An array of tastes and smells took over her senses. Maria was submerged in flavors of cherry, strawberry, and blackberry. The taste was fruity and fresh. In just one sip, Maria realized that she wanted to feel alive and be passionate about something. Everything finally made sense and she understood just how significant wine was to her grandmother. In a way, this wine represented her grandmother. It was unique yet elegant, and subtle yet strong. She felt connected to her grandmother even more so now than before. Maria took another sip and read the back of the note. On the back, her grandmother had written, “One sip can change your world.” This was true and remained to be true for Maria.

A few weeks later, Maria yearned to experience this yet again. She went to go look on the bottle for the label. As she did, Maria tripped and knocked the bottle off the table, cracking it into pieces.  She was devastated.  This was the last token she had of her grandmother and it was destroyed. Maria’s grandmother had been suffering with leukemia for about three years. Those were the hardest years of their lives, having to watch their grandmother fight through this deteriorating disease was heartbreaking. Months earlier, she had lost the long and painful battle. This changed the dynamic of the family drastically because the grandmother was the glue that held them together. Heartbroken, Maria did not know what to do. She needed to find this wine because it was the last element that connected her to her grandmother. It was something special that they shared between themselves and no one else. From then on, Maria made it her priority to find it. She was always looking but never seemed to find it. She was determined and she would not give up.

Ten Years Later…September 2025

It was September of 2025. Ten years had passed since Maria had taken that first sip and ten years since her grandmother had passed. Maria had graduated from Colombia and was now working as a journalist in Manhattan for the Wall Street Journal. She never married but instead made it her objective to find the wine her grandmother had given to her years back. It was a sacred treasure to Maria because it created a forever bond between them, and she couldn’t lose this connection they had. She shared her grandmother’s love for vibrancy and uniqueness, which is what the wine encapsulated. It was Maria’s birthday and her friend decided to take her on a weeklong trip to Italy. At this point, Maria was beginning to think she would never encounter her grandmother’s wine again. She was becoming hopeless and defeated.

The week went by slowly for Maria. Although she was in a beautiful place she felt empty and lost. She could sense her grandmother’s presence diminishing and that scared her. Maria needed something that would help her hold on to her grandmother’s memory. She had been looking for so long for something that she was not sure she would ever find. It was not the wine that she was looking for per say but what it represented. It represented her grandmother. The last day of their trip arrived and Maria’s friend surprised her with a trip to a winery for a tasting. Reluctantly she went and as they pulled up to the vineyard she could feel her heart begin to break even more. The sign on the gate read Le Cimate. It was a huge expanse of land that overlooked the beautiful lands of Montefalco, the region where her grandmother was from. All around were rows upon rows of grape vines that stretched for what seemed like miles. The sky was clear and still. The air was fresh and crisp. For a moment, as Maria stepped out of the car, she sensed her grandmother’s presence. They were greeted by Paolo, the owner of the winery, his wife, and their two children. Their energy and enthusiasm radiated off of them and onto Maria. Once again, Maria sensed her grandmother’s presence. The building was modern yet timeless. The rooms were filled with hundreds of bottles of wine, both empty and full. The different smells from the different types of wines traveled with you everywhere you went. Maria was overridden by a strange sense of security and comfort. She sat down for the tasting and looked out the window. She saw Paolo’s youngest daughter run towards an older woman with the biggest smile on her face. The two embraced in a hug and the little girl cried out “nonna, nonna, ti amo, nonna.” Instantly, Maria was brought back to her sixth birthday where her grandmother had surprised her at school. At the time, her grandparents lived in Pennsylvania and only saw Maria’s family on Christmas. The joy and excitement Maria felt was indescribable. That was the moment she knew nothing else mattered but her family. Witnessing this embrace, Maria sensed her grandmother’s presence yet again. Her grandmother was with her and she knew it, but why?

It was nearing the end of the day and the tasting was almost over. Maria kept feeling the presence of her grandmother but still did not know why. Paolo brought the final wine over to the table, popped off the cork, and poured each of them a glass. As he did this, Maria noticed the color of the wine and recognized the smell. She was brought back ten years to her apartment in New York, a scared and naïve first year graduate student with not a clue as to what she wanted to accomplish in life. It was not until Maria took a sip from the glass that she realized why she had been experiencing this déja vu. She recognized this taste, a taste so fruity and fresh. Maria was once more submerged in flavors of cherry, strawberry, and blackberry. She felt the smoothness and fluidity of the wine move down her throat and into her stomach, warming up her body. It suddenly hit her. This was the wine she had been searching for, her grandmother’s wine. Maria was dumbfounded. With each sip she could feel her soul fill with life and her body reborn. Eagerly, Maria looked down at the bottle and read the label. Across the front read, Rosato Umbria – Saudade. She had found her grandmother and therefore she had found herself.

Umbra Institute


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