Thursday, February 16, 2012

More wine!

Last night I volunteered a wine tasting event last night at l’Alliance Française de Chicago. I was asked if I would help translate for the sommelier because he didn’t speak English very well. It was a disaster. I don’t know any technical wine terms in English. And I definitely don’t know them in French. I did a lot of shoulder shrugging and mostly guessed (most of the time wrong, as one of the attendees was happy to point out) what he was saying.

Although no one blamed me, and both the event organizer and sommelier were grateful that I tried, I felt frustrated and dumb. Wine is supposed to be fun! Fun is not standing in front of 15 people stumbling through translating the éraflage, sulfitage, and levurage steps of the vinification process. I think the people who paid for the event had fun though, and that’s what really matters.

And this is the perfect opportunity to talk about the last fun experience I had with wine.

As a loyal blog reader, you may have read my down-in-the-dumps post about when I first arrived in Australia. It was anti-climatic to travel all the way to Melbourne and not be totally blown away by it, and I didn’t know anyone there either. So I decided for my last day in Melbourne, I’d take a wine tour in the Yarra Valley.

And it turned out to be the best day I had in Australia!

Paul, the tour company owner, runs Winebus Winery Tours on the side of his full-time. He’s just a dude who loves and knows a lot about wine. The other 10 people on the tour were middle aged couples from Australia, New Zealand, and one from Amsterdam. We started at the (French!) Moët Champagne vineyard, where I sampled a yummy sparkling Pinot Noir and started making friends.

Throughout the day, as I got to know the other people on the tour (and as we sampled more and more wine together), I began to think Australia wasn’t so dull after all. I felt very welcomed by the group. I was the youngest and the only person doing the tour solo, and I was one of the few who had never been to Australia before. These people thought it was SO COOL that I was 25 years old and had pinched my pennies to come to Australia just because. Everyone took me under their winey wings to offer a recommendations about what I should see or do on my travels — and to make sure I had a space at the bar for the next tasting.

When we sat down for lunch at one of the wineries, a fly decided to drown in my water glass. The server was going to get me a new glass, but instead I just picked it out and said I didn’t mind a little extra protein. The group thought it was hysterical. They made jokes about me eating flies the rest of the tour. And when I decided not to order the cheese platter because it was for two people, two of the couples who had already ordered insisted that I sample every type of cheese on theirs. Lunching in a vineyard, sipping on wine and eating cheese with my new BFFs... it was pretty great. When the bus dropped me off at the end of the day, I was sleepy and happy. I cheerfully said goodbye to everyone. I’ll never see them again, but I’ll always remember having a blast with them!

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