A lot of you probably say you go out drinking with co-workers. Partially to blend in with the Milanese culture and partially to avoid the rush-hour traffic of so many people hurrying home at once, I also frequently go out to enjoy an aperitif before heading home. My co-workers and I often have such a good time at the aperitif place that it ends up turning into dinner. I have to be honest, though—co-workers going out for drinks together usually turns into a complaint session about work, and I’m a little concerned about the uncanny way it ends up escalating. I’m not sure it’s actually healthy.
Milan might be in Italy, but it’s in the northern part of the country—which is different from the south. Here, we don’t have the kind of sun-drenched climate that makes you want to forget work and just lounge around outside taking it easy. The Milanese hole themselves up in offices and bustle about making money, so they tend to build up stress.
And these Milanese have found the perfect after-five hangout. Of course pizza and pasta immediately come to mind when you think of Italy, but you should never forget the wine.
As an interesting aside, a middle-aged Parisian man I know who travels the world for work never goes anywhere without his wine notebook. If we eat at a French restaurant and order wine, he immediately whips this trusty notebook from his breast pocket and uses it to check the wine list. He selects a wine based on the reviews published in it every year. Don’t you think that’s cool?
OK, let’s get back to the after-five restaurant. It’s a pub called Cieca, which means “blind”. They’ve got a really interesting wine plan.
You can order a wine you like from the wine list if you want, but if you order a “Cieca”, they’ll bring you a secret wine poured in a jet-black glass.
As you drink it, you try to guess the name of the wine, the vintage, the winery, and so on. The people who manage to guess everything correctly win a whole bottle, while those who get the answer partially right get a free glass.
Even people who don’t know much about wine order a Cieca just for the fun of guessing. Not only does this get our group of co-workers really excited, it also gets people more interested in wine.
You might think that it would be easy to at least guess whether a wine was red, white, or rosé, but wine out of a jet-black glass is actually quite mysterious, and there are times when you completely lose confidence in your sense of taste. Meanwhile, as you’re getting all excited about tasting the wine, you shrug off your work exhaustion, escape rush hour, and return to your home sweet home with a smile. Not bad, eh?