Graphical Wine

We had a pleasant morning reading in bed before getting up for the breakfast in our hostel.  This has been one of our favorite ones because in addition to stale bread and Tang! it has a cook your own eggs station which we both made use of.  After breakfast we developed our plan for the day.  Santiago has a number of wineries around but every tour to them is ludicrously priced ($125 per person ludicrous).  Instead, after reading many other people’s travel blogs we learned that a few are within public transportation distance if you’re willing to a walk a little bit (which of course we are).

And so we set out to two of the closest wineries to the city, Cousino Mucal and Aquatania.  We took the subway as close as we could get and then walked for 30 minutes on a road that seemed less and less inclined to have pedestrians along it but we have definitely walked along much worse.  We arrived at the vineyard and the guard at the entrance told us the next tour wasn’t starting for another two and a half hours.  That was okay with us because we, frankly, had seen enough wineries to know what they looked like and really didn’t feel like we needed another tour to explain what an oak barrel was.  Instead we headed to the tasting room where we had plans of finding a case of reasonably priced (which means very cheap by U.S. standards) wine to ship back home.

We have arrived!
We have arrived!
The vineyards of Cousino Macul with the city in the distance.
The vineyards of Cousino Macul with the city in the distance.

We spoke with a man in the tasting room and bought a flight of four wines each that would be sampled with folks from a tour that was just wrapping up if we wouldn’t mind waiting.  We wandered the grounds a little bit before settling on some comfy leather couches to wait.

Twenty minutes later we were called over with two Australian women and what followed was the by far the best wine tasting experience we have ever had.  It wasn’t so much the wines (though those were good too) but our sommellier that made it so good.  With each wine he would take a sip and then in real time create graphs of the wine and how it tasted and felt in your mouth over time.  He would take another sip to confirm and then we would all follow along. Taking in some wine, swishing it around, swallowing all together and then standing in amazement as we could feel and taste his graphs brought to life.  It was a really novel way to describe wine (or anything really) and we wished every vineyard and restaurant would immediately adopt it.  Sadly this vineyard doesn’t ship to the U.S. because they already have distributors there, something we are finding to be much more common than we expected.

Our host drawing out on of his graphs.
Our host drawing out on of his graphs.
This was Doug's favorite.  It was a good summer wine for sipping on a patio.
This was Doug’s favorite. It was a good summer wine for sipping on a patio.
This one tasted like peaches and strawberries.
This one tasted like peaches and strawberries.
This is a grape varietal originally from Bourdeaux that was thought extinct thanks to a blight.  It was rediscovered in 1994 in Chile growing amongst merlot.
This is a grape varietal originally from Bourdeaux that was thought extinct thanks to a blight. It was rediscovered in 1994 in Chile growing amongst merlot.
The tasting graph of the Camenere.  The line shows body over time (in seconds) and then the tasting notes are written along the line. We both definitely noticed the black pepper in the middle.
The tasting graph of the Camenere. The line shows body over time (in seconds) and then the tasting notes are written along the line. We both definitely noticed the black pepper in the middle.
The syrah.
The syrah.
With its tasting graph highlighting meat, and oak.
With its tasting graph highlighting meat, and oak.

After our great experience at Cousino Macul we didn’t know how the next vineyard would stack up but we set off to find out.  We decided to get lunch along the way as there were restaurants peppered along the walk.  Our first one we tried to stop at seemed to not actually exist where Google thought it was, if it exists at all, and so we settled on one of the many sushi restaurants in the neighborhood figuring if the ceviche is this good in Santiago maybe the sushi is too.  We were dreadfully wrong.  We ordered two terrible sushi rolls, overplumped with “queso filadelfia” and some microwave gyoza.  $22 later we left very sad but at least no longer hungry.

Our next stop would prove to be a miss as well.  It seems the Vina Aquatania is open by reservation only and we arrived to find the front gates locked and no one there. There were no other vineyards in the area so we made the long walk back to the subway and headed once again towards downtown, deciding that even though two out of our three stops had been busts, the one good one more than made the trip worthwhile.

Back in town we headed towards a wine bar we had learned about our last time in Santiago and were both intrigued by a flight called Wild Wines, featuring wines made out of grapes growing wild.  They certainly were interesting, and as we tried them we both regretted not ordering something that maybe would go better on their own without the need for food.

The wine list available at the wine bar.
The wine list available at the wine bar.
The Wild Wines tasting flight and a very overpriced bottle of water for two thirsty walkers.
The Wild Wines tasting flight and a very overpriced bottle of water for two thirsty walkers.

After our day of wine, we headed back to our hostel to get out of the afternoon heat for a while before heading out to dinner.  We settled on an Italian restaurant nearby recommended both by our hostel and TripAdvisor.  It was okay.  The ceviche was not as good as last night’s and Lynn’s seafood cannelloni was overcooked but my seafood fettuccine was quite good.

After dinner we headed over to the Bellavista neighborhood to try and find a particular Chilean beer that had been recommended to us by our waiter the night before but were unsuccessful.  At the bar we had been sent to they were out of it and we decided not to stick around for something else when our suggested alternatives were a California IPA and Blue Moon. We did stop by a fantastically rated restaurant while in the neighborhood though and inquire about reservations for tomorrow.  They were booked solid but the hostess recommended we come back around 9 pm because they always have at least a few no shows and she was hopeful we could slip in.

Daily Walking Mileage : 10.7 miles

Fun Facts:

  • Sushi is not good in Santiago.  We feel bad for Japan that this is what Chileans think their food tastes like.
  • Decanting wine was originally a side effect of filtering out sedimentation settled in the bottle.
  • The average price of a decent bottle of wine here, even at a restaurant, is $5.  These sames wines are like $20 in the U.S. thanks to import taxes. This is why we were trying to find a case here to ship home.

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