Tag Archives: travel

Happy Swiss National Day – Aug. 1

1 Aug

If you ever wondered how Señorita Vino first became a wine lover, count your lucky estrellas that I’m still studying for my Wines of Bordeaux exam next Monday and I’m too slammed to write an original post. Here, enhanced by some snazzy photos I just snapped  (and sporting a new, timely  title), is my first-ever Señorita Vino blog post, which explains how my love  for wine was born. Wondering how Swiss National Day ties into all of this? Read on! (But please spare my parents a collective heart attack by not telling them that I got into a car at age 22 with a strange man and let him drive me to the outskirts of Geneva, Switzerland, just because he promised me a fabulous meal with some local wines. ¡Gracias!)

This is the ACTUAL map I took with me to Switzerland as an impressionable young college girl. And no, I’m not a hoarder.

At a wine tasting event last month, someone asked me how it was that I came to love wine. It all started 23 years ago in the countryside outside the city limits of Geneva, Switzerland. The middle of nowhere, to be exact. With a man I had met only two hours earlier.

But it’s not what you think. This is not that kind of blog, and I was not that kind of chica.

I was a 22 year-old Latina in her last year at the University of California, away from home for the first time on a summer work-abroad program. That was the summer I came into my own, and to get back to the story, the summer I discovered the joy of wine. And improved my French.

The man in question was a thirty-something banker who had taken a liking to my gringa roommate. He had asked her to dinner at a small country restaurant, and she was nervous about going for a drive with a man she barely knew. So I took one for the team and accepted her invitation to join them.

That photo in the background reminds me of the experience I’m about to describe. By the way, the Swiss National Tourist Office did not sponsor any part of this post. I just happened to find this brochure in my living room. (De nada, Swiss National Tourist Office.)

What I remember most about that afternoon was not so much the conversation or even the food, but the glorious red wine. I couldn’t tell you the name or the grape. At the time, the only things I was jotting down in notebooks were French words I’d never heard in my literature classes (bretelles for bra straps, Coupe Danemark for a lethal portion of velvety hazelnut ice cream with heavy chocolate syrup, served in a cup the size of a fish bowl).

And this, my friends, is fromage. Real Swiss cheese. From left to right, Vacherin Fribourgeois A.O.C., Holzmilch Kase, and Le Maréchal.

Maybe it was the bucolic country setting. Maybe it was the thrill of being with a European man who could school my American boyfriend back home on wardrobe and manners. Regardless, I was hopelessly, unapologetically, deliciously hooked on wine.

This is a Swiss white wine made from the Fendant, or Chasselas, grape. The book in the background is the same Baedecker’s that accompanied me on my Swiss odyssey back in college. I swear I’m not a hoarder.

Which brings me to today. Before I head into the kitchen to pour a glass of Australian Shiraz, I want to share a few things you can expect to see on this blog. Let me stress that while I may be targeting my fellow wine-loving Latinas, this content is for everyone and anyone who loves wine, wants to learn more about it, or would like to share their knowledge or expertise about wine. I’ll be writing about wines I think you might enjoy, tastings and events that I visit, profiles and interviews with people in the wine industry, factoids about what I’m learning in the UCLA Extension wine education program, and maybe a few foods I enjoy with various wines.

So cheers, salud,  and santé, chicas y chicos! And a special toast to the fine Swiss gent who started it all.

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Food and Vino – A Family Affair

19 Jun

Causa, a Peruvian appetizer made of molded potatoes topped with seafood or chicken salad.

Yep, I’m a Daddy’s Girl. And on this Father’s Day, it’s fitting that I pay tribute to the man who cultivated my lifelong passion for breaking bread with family, friends and new acquaintances, and who loves his Valpolicella despite what any wine snob thinks.

I was introduced to wine at an early age thanks to my father’s Italian roots, although I didn’t fully begin appreciating it until college. Now, before you go getting all Child Protective Services on me, let me be clear that my early indoctrination into the world of wine was much like it is in some Mediterranean and Latin American households – a small splash served with a multi-course, midday meal that usually went until 5 or later. A pour that was seldom finished by any of the kids because we had far more important things on our minds, like dessert.

But back to my father. He is in his element in the kitchen, where he’ll pull marathon stints constructing masterpieces from El recetario nicolini, Peru’s own version of “The Joy of Cooking.” Over time, my father’s culinary talents have created a small legion of Peruvian food aficionados among my circle of friends. As for my own Peruvian cooking repertoire, let’s just say I’ve mastered one dish, which leaves me with about 999 to learn.

Yes, mis amigos, the diversity of Peruvian cuisine is 1,000 dishes strong, according to one Peruvian restauranteur. If I were to attempt the Peruvian version of Julie y Julia, I’d be at it for about three years.

Arroz con mariscos, a Peruvian seafood and rice stir-fry influenced by Perú's Asian immigrant population.

My father is no-nonsense when it comes to wine. In other words, whatever is on the counter or in the fridge is what you’ll get with your meal. For those of you who are not quite as free-wheeling, wine pairing with Peruvian food is not as esoteric as it may seem. I recently enjoyed a five-course Peruvian meal with three Argentine wines that blended beautifully with the diversity of the food. A Torrontés paired seamlessly with the seafood dishes, a Malbec complemented a lamb and cilantro stew, and a dry Argentine Sauvignon Blanc with heady white floral notes capped off a dessert of kiwicha (or amaranth) pudding with mazamorra morada, a popular Peruvian treat made from purple corn.

So here’s to my papi. A Father’s Day toast to you and the thousands of hours logged in the kitchen for love of familia, food, and life. ¡Salud! 

Pescado chorrillano, sea bass in an ají amarillo (yellow chili) wine sauce with onions and tomatoes. ¡Delicioso!


A blog for Latinas who love vino

27 Apr

At a wine tasting event last month, someone asked me how it was that I came to love wine. It all started 23 years ago in the countryside outside the city limits of Geneva, Switzerland. The middle of nowhere, to be exact. With a man I had only met two hours earlier.

But it’s not what you think. This is not that kind of blog, and I was not that kind of chica.

I was a 22 year-old Latina in her last year at the University of California, away from home for the first time on a summer work-abroad program. That was the summer I came into my own, and to get back to the story, the summer I discovered the joy of wine (and improved my French).

The man in question was a thirty-something banker who had taken a liking to my American roommate. He had asked her to dinner at a small country restaurant, and she was nervous about going alone with a man she barely knew. So I took one for the team and accepted her invitation to join them.

What I remember most about that afternoon was not so much the conversation or even the food, but the glorious red wine. I couldn’t tell you the varietal. At the time the only things I was jotting down in notebooks were French words I’d never heard in my literature classes (bretelles for bra straps, Coupe Danemark for a lethal serving of velvety ice cream with hazelnuts and heavy chocolate syrup, served in a cup the size of a fish bowl).

Maybe it was the bucolic country setting. Maybe it was the thrill of being with a European man who could school my American boyfriend back home on wardrobe and manners. Regardless, I was hopelessly, unapologetically, deliciously hooked on wine.

Which brings me to today. Before I head into the kitchen to pour a glass of Australian Shiraz, I want to share a few things you can expect to see on this blog. Let me stress that while I may be targeting my fellow wine-loving Latinas, this content is for everyone and anyone who loves wine, wants to learn more about wine, or wants to share their knowledge or expertise about wine. I’ll be writing about wines I think you might enjoy, tastings and events that I visit, profiles and interviews with people in the wine industry, factoids about what I’m learning in the UCLA Extension wine education program, and maybe a few foods I enjoy with various wines.

So cheers, salud,  and santé, chicas y chicos! And a special toast to the fine Swiss gent who started it all.

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