Growing up in an Italian family, wine has always been on the dining table. When I was a kid, of course, I was not allowed to sip wine. However, sometimes I could eat a piece of peach, or two, that my father occasionally put into his glass of cold red wine for dinner. A favourite drink of my father during the summer. Delicious memories of my first encounter with wine.
Even an old friend reminded me recently of how I was the only one stubbornly sticking to drinking Merlot in my later youth, whilst others preferred drinking beer and spirits.
It never occurred to me to consider making a career in wine. Not even when I was working for over ten years in gastronomy during my studies.
Instead, I followed the conventional path. Trained in languages, I moved to London to study for my degree, ending up with a career in the financial sector. Immensely grateful for the knowledge gained and the experiences made, I still felt that my future had something else in store for me.
My passion for wine stayed with me. I was, however, far from being knowledgeable enough to confidently pick a bottle of wine off a shelve or pick a wine that fits my palate from a restaurant menu.
The educational journey
It wasn’t until a friend spoke to me in 2015 about the world-leading organisation for wine education, WSET London.
I didn’t wait long to sign up for the first course of the educational programme. It was over the weekend, and I remember exactly meeting my best friend at the end. It was a hot summer night in August in London, on a gorgeous terraced bar overlooking St. Paul’s Cathedral. I remember how I confidently stepped to the bar, showing off my new wine skills. I felt beyond exhilarated to have discovered the big passion that this subject wakes up in me.
The obvious consequence I had to derive from it, was signing up for the level two shortly afterward, that was already moving towards a more serious approach to wine. This was the first time I started to consider making wine a possible future career.
From then on, there was no turning back. I left my beloved London for good, in exchange for a new life in Berlin, and a new career in wine. WSET studies continued, leading me to where I am now, at the last step of the WSET educational pyramid, the infamous Diploma in Wines & Spirits, as well as a Sommelière Meister certificate on top.
From wine bar to sensory-science-based wine tastings
It’s been quite a journey, challenging, demanding, but neither the frequent 18 hours of daily work have ever felt like being just a minute too much. Never have I looked back one single second.
Initially, Loivini was supposed to be a cosy wine bar in Kreuzberg, but tough regulations and destiny meant it otherwise. Sometimes I walk past this beautiful little spot with its warm red-bricked arched walls, and wonder how life would have turned out differently, had this become my reality.
But as it is in life, one door closes, and another opens up.
Behind that door, was the initially not so planned ‘Plan B’: ‘Loivini’- a wine online store, that uses sensory science to predict your taste and offer the fitting wines for your palate.
It combined my other passion for human behavioural science with my passion for wine.
The driving force behind Loivini was one particular sentence I heard over and over again, every time I was asked about what I do for a living: “Ohhh… great, you work in wine! I LOVE wine, but… I’m not an expert” or “… I have no clue about wine”.
Why sensory science?
It baffles me, how a product, that is supposed to bring pleasure into people’s lives, would leave most people feeling as if they needed to be an expert to find a wine that fits their taste.
Surely, wine is a vast and perhaps complex subject. Most of its complexity derives from how the wine interacts with us on an individual level.
There is a lot we yet have to discover about sensory science, specifically when talking about personal preferences in wine. Information is scattered and what we know is, generally speaking, not well integrated into the culture of selling wine.
This is why I started obsessing over researching sensory science. I made it my mission to diffuse this knowledge and help wine enthusiasts feeling more comfortable with the experience of buying and enjoying wine.
The time came, a wine online store didn’t have enough power to communicate the importance of personal preferences in wine. That’s the moment the events were born.
A small group of people, discovering together the pleasure of connecting to our own sensory world, whilst learning how we all differ in our sensory perception. Making (great) wine a tool to uncover and develop our senses.
As Leonardo da Vinci used to say 500 years ago: “All our knowledge has its origin in our perceptions”.
Therefore, I invite you to come with me on a journey through our sensory world, after all, our senses belong to one of the greatest gifts we have been given in life.