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Lucio Sorre of Banfi Vintners Dies

Dana Nigro
Posted: September 7, 1999

Lucio Sorre, vice president and chief wine taster of Banfi Vintners, died of cancer on Sept. 4 at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip, N.Y. He was 66.

Born in Trieste, Italy, Sorre emigrated to the United States in 1951. He joined Banfi Vintners, the U.S. wine importer that owns Tuscany's Castello Banfi, in 1976. His perceptive palate soon earned him the position of Banfi's chief wine taster, in which he sampled some 4,000 wines every year.

Sorre, chairman emeritus of the Sommelier Society and recently elected president of the Society of Wine Educators, spent about three out of every four weeks traveling as a "goodwill ambassador" for Banfi. He conducted dinners and seminars to educate people on the relationship between wine and food, led tours of Italian wineries, wrote extensively about wine and spoke as a visiting wine expert at schools such as Cornell University and the Culinary Institute of America.

His primary message was that wine had one purpose -- "to give pleasure, nothing more" -- and he encouraged people to follow their own rules when it came to wine appreciation. He used humor to break down the mystique surrounding wine and was known for dropping quips into his class presentations, such as, "Food without wine is tantamount to walking around naked."

Sharron McCarthy, Banfi's director of wine education and a 20-year associate of Sorre, described him as "an extraordinary, vibrant, caring man full of wry wit, wisdom and indomitable spirit. Lucio taught us all so much, not only about wine and food, but about life and love."

Sorre is survived by his wife, Charlotte, and their two children, Mark and Elena, as well as his sister Marina Colombo.

The funeral will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 8, at 9:30 a.m. at St. Dominick's Roman Catholic Church in Oyster Bay, N.Y. Visitation will be held today from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Oyster Bay Funeral Home at 261 South Street in Oyster Bay. The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the charity of the donor's choice.

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