Thanks to our sommeliers (219 wines tasted!)

These nice gentlemen did a truly superb job serving our “jury” the 219 competing wines we tasted for the Radici Wines festival over the last three days.

They’re all locally based professional sommeliers except for one…

Paolo Patruno (above) is a doctor and a local winemaker. He is one of the many layperson sommeliers who has achieved his certification through the Apulia chapter of the Italian Sommelier Association.

His service was impeccable and he and I talked about a wide range of topics after each session — from my Eastern European origins to his residency at a hospital in Israel (where he treated wounded Israeli soldiers among his patients), from the historic immigration crisis in Albania (across the sea from Apulia) to the current African migration, from the recent changes in the Primitivo di Manduria DOC to Apulian traditions of hospitality.

It’s my favorite thing about what I do for a living: meeting new people and learning about their lives through and in wine.

Our jury included writers and wine experts from America, England, Poland, France, and Italy.

Jancis (center) was our presidentessa (she is super cool!) and it was thrilling to taste and share impressions with so many interesting wine personalities.