This was a successful day. I woke up, had lunch next door to the hostel and was in great condition to go wine-tasting. Yes, I had to pay again, but that is the price for foolishness. I was happy that my nice German roomie - Barbara and another fun Dutch girl we had met at the hostel - Esther - would be joining on the vineyard tour.
Our first stop for the day was Bodega Domiciano - a family winery that had been in Mendoza from 1919. We started off with a tour of the vineyards and an explanation of when the best malbec grapes in the area were ready for harvesting - the delicate balance that was needed between sunlight and rain to end up with grapes that were not too watery but also not excessively sweet. After this we were taken to the cellars where the thousands of liters of wine were preserved in oak barrels. The aging process was a delicate one that requires significant amount of time, investment and expertise. At this winery, wine was aged both in the barrels then later on in bottles all underground in the cellar.
The next part was the most exciting - the wine tasting. Unfortunately we were not given a proper tutorial of how to taste well at this winery, but this was fixed at our last location. We tasted around 4 different types of wine at each place - there were generous servings - at least half a glass per wine.
Our next stop was an olive farm. Again we had a tour of the farm, followed by the processing section and finally a food tasting session. That was some delicious olive oil!
Our final stop was a winery called Don Arturo. This was my favourite winery. I finally learnt properly how to "taste" red wine. We started off by placing a white napkin behind the glass to see if we had a truly red color. A "brownish" color would be a sign of too much oxidation, and that is a wine that you do not want to drink! After this we swirled the wine in the glass for 30 seconds or so to let it breathe and to see if the wine had "tears." At this stage we looked at the glass to see if there were "streams of tears" coming down the glass after the swirling. In the words of our guide, "If the wine doesn't cry, you will do the crying the day after drinking it." Having ascertained that our wine was enough of a cry baby, the next step was to sniff the wine. You were to let your senses take in the different aromas, flavours etc. and mentally prepare your palate for the tasting. Next, I took a large sip. You were to keep the wine in your mouth for a few seconds and try and really taste it. It was such an enjoyable process. We went through this for quite a few different types of wine. Their wines were great and well priced. I think each of us left with a bottle or two.
We got back to the hostel in time for free wine. Our refined palates were now able to discern that the wine at our hostel was not all that great (when compared to all the others we had been drinking at various wineries, but likely still more superior than most wines we had drank in our lives:-).....It is from a wine growing region in Argentina after all......I suspect that some of the wines I have drank in my younger years had never ever contained anything from a grape...perhaps they were vodka with red food colouring....) Back at the hostel, everyone was in a good mood. It was an American girls's birthday and her friends were making a huge dinner. They invited all of us to join in and just asked us to bring drinks - which we were more than happy to. I love the communal nature of hostels - can you imagine something like this happening at a hotel? Heeeee heeee!
After dinner we decided to go clubbing. By this time our group had grown larger to also include a few French backpackers. We got lost walking to the club. We asked a random stranger for directions, and they asked all 6 of us to jump into their car - and drove us there......This was definitely not Nairobi. Reminiscent of Valparaiso, I got to the hostel at 7am even though I had an almost 14 hour bus ride to Buenos Aires the next day......That is a story for my next post:-)