I recognise a passion project when I see one, and Cha Squared The Communion falls right in this category.
Cha Squared, a wine-focused start-up by New Yorker Cha McCoy, creates and hosts convivial wine tasting events for curious palates, in locations as varied as a Chilean vineyard, New York homes, and now in a Roman enoteca. In January 2018, trainee sommelier Cha brought her The Communion event to Rome, in an experimental European pop-up of this fun and fascinating guided wine-tasting.
‘For me, drinking wine is about sharing wine, dining together, creating a sense of community and conviviality,’ explains Cha. ‘The Communion was created to be a guided wine tasting event, round a dinner table, with a sense of togetherness. So far, the events in New York have sold out, so I was curious to experiment with a pop-up in Italy too.’
Cha, who first came to Italy just under a decade ago, is a passionate drinker and vendor of wines, with a gift for bringing their heritage and possibilities to life over a structured tasting. Cha Squared The Communion events involve light bites but the star of the show is the wine, with Cha guiding guests through around six different varieties to understand just why some wines go better with certain foods and to help the guests develop their own capabilities for enjoying and recognising wine.
All in all I was excited to have the chance to see the debut of Cha’s The Communion at Magazzino Scipioni in Rome’s Prati district. This spacious and well-stocked enoteca, by the way, is a great place to pop in for dinner or a glass or two of wine on any night of the week. On this occasion, for The Communion, we were set up in a cosy corner with six glasses of wine – three white and three red – selected to create a wine journey across Italy from south to north.
This was a true jaunt around Italy including the islands, starting from the popular Sardinian Vermentino and finishing with an iconic Barolo from Piemonte. We were instructed how to study, swirl, smell and taste the wine, learning how to identify acidity content and tannins. There was also a fabulous bonus tasting of an Amarone wine to help us develop our knowledge of this extremely distinctive drink.
It also felt like a very safe environment to ask those questions you don’t always dare bring up in formal wine tasting situations. So I finally got to the bottom of what is the difference between a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and a Montepulciano wine from Tuscany – answer – they’re not the same grape!
Cha paired the wine tasting with some light snacks which also helped us see which wines go best with food. All in all, a very pleasant and fun evening which served to enrich my enjoyment of Italian wines and inspire me to invest in further courses. Highly recommended.
Cha will be organising future courses and Cha Squared The Communion pop-ups and is available for private, guided tastings. Bookmark the Cha Squared Project facebook page for more details – and cheers!
Testaccina was a guest of Cha Squared The Communion