Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Vino Tinto

Dear Chicago (and PopPop),

Last night, I had my first wine tasting class!

After a day of reading for law school and attending Spanish class, it was a welcome activity. I met up with a few girls after class for the walk from University to the program building. We passed time before the tasting at a famous tango cafe over my second submarino (hot chocolate) of the trip.

Other students had mentioned that last week's class was overcrowded and the wine sparsely served - but at my first class, there were about a dozen of us and the wine was flowing! The sommelier was a nice young guy named Augustin and he taught to the level of the class very well - we were complete beginners. He gave a very detailed PowerPoint presentation about the Argentine style of making wine, which to my untrained mind seemed to be how everyone in the rest of the world makes it... lots of crushing, waiting, cooling, sifting. I tried to learn the castellano terms but will have to try again next week. Our first taste was a Tempranilla, a red wine with Spanish roots and a long Argentine history. Next were flights of a Malbec, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon. This was no 'sniff and spit' wine tasting - we were drinking small glasses of each of these!

The added surprise at the end of class were 2 bottles Augustin had receieved from a wine maker in the region. Augustin had reported to the bodegero that most American students did not like Malbec at tastings. The owner couldn't believe it to be true, so her gave Augustin 2 free bottles of his best wine to convince the American students that Malbec really is good wine. I was the recipient of a few glasses of the stuff! Of course I found it to be a nice drinking wine and, in an effort to make up for poor form of other American students, we lathered on the compliments. The class took a photo with the sommelier and the bottle to pass on to the vineyard owner. It was cute.

During the tasting, I became fast friends with the girls seated to my left - recent law graduates from Scotland. Grandpa and Thomas Friedman would have a lot to say about their place in the international climate - the young lawyers were travelling as their start dates had been postponed by the international firms that hired them years before. Scary out there.

At the end of class I exchanged information with Augustin about vineyards I should visit when I go to Mendoza this weekend and a few different types of Argentinan wine worth buying and bringing home. He was ecstatic with the request, and I have a long list to work with! The most expensive bottle he could recommend will cost less than $50 US, so I should be in good shape to pick up something fun and special this weekend.

Salud, Chicago!


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