Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wine tasting and rambling in Spanish

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

So, I get to class a bit early to prepare. Mariangeles comes in and asks me how I’m doing. I fake a smile. Everyone piles into our tiny room and then it’s time for me to go. Mariangeles takes my seat and turns on her RECORDING DEVICE! Yikes! I didn’t know I was going to be on tape with this! I hoped that once she heard it, she wouldn’t have to hear it again! Anyway, I wrote the title on the board and began. As soon as I started, I resorted to basically reading off of my paper. I have a feeling that if I hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have said more than half of the things I wanted. Oh well, the recording device will only replay what I said, haha. Overall I think it went okay…not as well as I would have wished, but oh well. I get nervous and there’s nothing I can do about that! The other people in the class seemed to enjoy the topic as well—we ended up talking about different traditions of Halloween here versus in the United States for the whole first part of class (about 45 minutes). I’m just glad that’s over with. However, it didn’t help that I then found out it was worth 25% of my grade. I’m hoping Mariangeles will cut me some slack because I was the first person to go in our class!

After lunch we rested up for a bit, did some homework, and then headed off to wine tasting! It was at this tiny, tiny little shop owned by a husband and wife (and their little daughter) lined with bottles of wine. We stood along this long table with our glasses and white placemats. None of the AIFS staff was there with us, so we were on our own to translate what the owner, Juan Antonio, told us. He first explained the 3 different steps to making wine, and then went on to talk about how to decipher the different flavors through taste and smell. He told us about how each wine usually has both flower and fruit included in it, which is what you can taste and smell. He had us hold up each glass to the light to see how clear or not clear it was (this told us how old they were…apparently “old” is only 4 years. I didn’t know that!). Then we leaned it over our white placemats to see the reflection against the paper. He pointed out that the red and rosa wine got lighter along the sides, showing clarity. The first wine we tried was a white wine from Navarra in the northern part of Spain. Like most white wines, it was to be drunk with fish (pescado) or seafood (mariscos). It was made from apple (manzana), banana (platano) and peach (melocoton). The flower in this one was Jasmine. I couldn’t taste that…but then again, I can’t remember ever eating jasmine before. With the first bottle he tried to open, he broke the cork in half. He kept trying to get the other half out, but couldn’t, and then explained that if that ever happens at a restaurant, to send it back because it means the wine is no longer good. He went and got us a different bottle (from the cooler that said 175.00 Euros…I wonder if that sticker was for OUR wine!). The second wine was a “rosa” wine, in between the red and white. This one was also from Navarra and is supposed to be drunk alongside fish. The flavors in this one were strawberries, raspberries and cranberries with an obvious flower scent of rose. Hence the name. The third wine we tried was a red wine…a REALLY dark red wine. This one was fun to look at through the light because of its scarlet color. This one is to be drunk with meat (carne). The flower in this one was the violet…so pretty! The last wine we tried was put into a smaller glass that we had. This one is from Rioja and was a white wine. It was pretty sweet, and is to be had with desserts and fruits. The flavors in this one were pineapple, banana, coconut and almonds. (“ALMONDS?! How do you make a wine with almonds?!”—Nora “Well, the same way you make beer out of chunky stuff.”) We asked the reason for the smaller glass, and Juan Antonio just replied “well, it’s a bit stronger than the rest.” I guess that made sense. After we were done, we all took a picture together—so keep your eyes out for that! I really enjoyed this, but not even for the wine. It was fun to hear about all the different parts to wine, and there were some pretty funny things that happen during a wine tasting. For example, there was this bucket with a weird strainer in the middle of it, and after we had all taken a sip of the first wine, Juan Antonio just spit his into the bucket! He said that we just get the taste in our mouth at first, and then if we want, we can drink more after we figure out the tastes. After each wine, if you hadn’t drunk all of it, you were supposed to pour it into the bucket. I felt very wasteful! Some people finished all of theirs…haha. It was funny just seeing everyone spitting out mouthfuls of wine and then going back for seconds. At the end of the tasting, Juan Antonio picks up the strainer and looks at all the wine/spit in the bucket. He raises an eyebrow and goes (in Spanish) “Well, you guys are better than the last group I had.” We didn’t understand what he meant, so he explained. Apparently the last group of AIFS kids barely had anything in the bucket…meaning they had all drunk basically everything. He said that a good wine tasting has a full bucket, and I guess we were in between, haha. Más o menos.

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