What I learned at yesterday's wine tasting:
Europeans consume wine with a meal. You do not sit around drinking wine on its own, rather if you just want a drink you will have an aperitif or spumante. Wine is drunk with food, always, whether it is aperitivo snacks with white wine, charcuterie with red or, of course, a proper meal.
This is the revelatory part (for me):
Americans just drink wine. They get together for "a glass of wine", food not required.
Hence (here it comes!): European wines are highly acidic compared to American wines. These are wines with strong after-flavours and of which you would not happily drink even a full glass without a side of food.
The sommelier compared it to salt: it does wonders on food but you don't eat it on its own.
American wines, on the other hand, are made for an audience who sips away at a large glass as a drink on its own, something softer and less acidic.
So much of my life makes more sense to me now.