When I was invited by Winebow distributors to participate in a tour of the vineyards of Chile and Argentina, I asked my trusty assistant, Carolina, “Why me?” Now don’t get me wrong…I like a good glass of wine as well as the next guy or gal, but I don’t consider myself a wine expert or a wine writer of any capacity. I’m pretty much strictly a “stick to what you know” girl, and while I can write and discuss (and every once in awhile even cook!) a great meal, the extent of my comments concerning wine would be quite limited. In her infinite wisdom, Caro answered, “Well, this might be a great opportunity to learn more about the wines that would complement the food that you cook!” When she put it like that it made all the sense in the world, and so we accepted Winebow’s gracious invitation, and we set out to pack our bags.
We arrived in Santiago, Chile at about 2PM Sunday October 3rd after quite the adventure! Santiago being Caro’s hometown, her mom and family had prepared for us a sumptuous family dinner with a houseful of aunts, uncles, cousins and friends…it felt like home! Carolina’s mom, La Vicky was there to greet us with a pitcher of chirimoya sangria, a mixed with white wine and the chirimoya fruit from Chile, that might well be the best I have ever tasted in my life!, Snacks of cheeses, dips and pates served with bread and crackers accompanied the delicious beverage that shared pride of place with delicious bottles of Chilean red wine and ice cold beer on the table.
When dinner was served there were platters of delicious roast chicken, potato salad, yellow rice, green salads, and too many more sides to mention! Did I mention that the entire time I was there I could only think of Sundays at my abuela’s and mom’s houses. I couldn’t keep the grin off of my face! Sadly, the dinner wrapped up altogether way too soon, and we headed out to meet our group at Zanzibar Restaurant.
Upon arriving at the Zanzibar, we were met by the representative and head of Winebow, Alfredo Bartholomaus, a gracious, handsome Chilean gentleman who’s knowledge of oenology can fill volumes! The consummate host, Alfredo introduced Caro and I to our fellow adventurers, and I was please to see that I actually recognized Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg, fellow New Yorkers, authors, and food writers. Alfredo instructed one and all to put their notebooks and pens away, as this was a night for fun, food, and getting to know you! The evening wrapped up with an incredibly limber belly dancer! I got the feeling this trip was off to a running start and that’s without mentioning that our first stop the following morning was to the wonderful Leyda Vinyard in the town of Santo Domingo, about 80 kilometers southwest of Santiago! I made sure to go straight to bed after our delicious evening, so as to get a bright start to the adventure that awaited us on our next day!