At long last, only 12 days later, I have finally finished my overdue weekend blog post! (New resolution: get these posts out faster.)
Two Saturdays ago, a group of us in the BU program went wine tasting at a local vineyard and Dan and I attended a football game (known as soccer to you Americans). Read on, if you’ve maintained interest even after two weeks!
I consider myself an alcohol amateur. My favorite is hard cider—since I can’t seem to shake a childish preference for fruity, sweet flavors—but I’d pick up a glass of wine over a bottle of beer any day. I’ve often found wine to be more tolerable than other alcohols. Wine has glamour, class, elegance! Yet I usually will only drink it if A) the social situation dictates or B) the only other option is beer or hard alcohol.
Still, I was excited for Saturday’s wine tasting. A group of about 25 of us, including our chaperone Carla, left our residence for Domaine de la Vigne Blanche on the cloudy Saturday morning, taking a quick bus ride to the small vineyard in Cologny, on the outskirts of Geneva. We arrived at a quaint farmhouse hugged by fields that seemed too vast to be only 10 minutes outside of a major city.
A raven-haired woman named Sarah greeted us just within the gates of the property. She is the daughter half of the father-daughter duo that run the vineyard and would be giving us the tour. Her English was excellent; if not for her occasionally asking Carla for translations from French, I never would have guessed that English wasn’t her first language.
Sarah first led us to the vineyard itself, explaining that they were now in the process of preparing the bare vines for the upcoming growing season. Much of the work, she explained, must still be done by hand, even though some vineyards now use machinery.
After learning (quite thoroughly!) about the growing conditions in Geneva, the tending and harvesting rituals of the vineyard, and the way the roots of the vines must interact with the “spirit of the earth”, we were led inside. Sarah showed us the barrels that keep the wine and explained to us the storing and aging process.
At last, we were led into the small, cozy room where the tasting would occur. There were four tables, each set up with a tempting spread of cheeses, charcuterie, and bread. Mina, Stef, Zach, Kavi, Dan, and I circled around one table and willed ourselves not to nibble on the food in front of us as we waited for the wine to be served.
I, for one, wanted to really experience the wine tasting in all of its overblown, pretentious glory. I would swish, I would gurgle, I would spit! I would play along and maybe the wine would taste different.
Sarah and Carla instructed us on how to taste the wine: a small sip, followed by a chewing-motion of the jaw to swish it around in our mouths. I believe the ritual is customarily concluded by spitting the wine out into the provided spit-jug, but we refused to do such a thing (out of respect for Sarah and her craft, of course). We were recommended to chase the wine with a cube of cheese or small brick of jelly, provided on the plate next to the label BLANC. We were to taste the subsequent Aligoté in the same manner.
To be honest, I enjoyed this disciplined tasting process; it provided a way for me to appreciate wine for once! Maybe it was placebo, but I think I may have tasted a difference in the wine with accompanying snacks: the jelly was a cool and satisfying follow-up to a sip of Aligoté, the Riesling did seem to add a new dimension to the taste of the soft cheese.
Next came the red wines: Pinot Noir and a local specialty, L’Esprit de Genève. The latter was created by a group of Genevois winemakers in an attempt to capture the city’s essence in a wine. These were to be enjoyed with a hard cheese and a piece of some dried-fig-and-almond aggregate. Sarah showed us how to discern the colors in the wine, pointing out the subtle differences in taste and hue due to the different amounts of tannins in each blend (I really couldn’t tell, to be honest). Still, I think I noticed the slight changes in taste of the food as I did with the white wines.
As the tasting began winding down, Sarah offered cups of their vineyard’s grape juice for us to try. It was deliciously sweet with just enough sparkling bubbles to add interest. A few of us bought cartons to take home. Others bought bottles of wine, and then we were on the bus back to the city.
After a couple months of getting by on 3 Franc bottles of cheap rosé, it was nice to enjoy some quality, Swiss-made wine. And since I’m not enough of a wine connoisseur (technically connoisseuse for me) to invest in my own nice bottle, getting to taste some—along with the appropriate snacks to complement them—was a treat! Perhaps this is what’s best for me, an alcohol amateur: wine tasting, not drinking.
Switzerland v. Latvia football game
That night Dan and I took a half-hour bus ride to Stade de Genève for the Switzerland vs Latvia World Cup Qualifying match. Our seats were in the third row, right behind one of the goals. A hoard of enthusiastic Swiss superfans grouped right next to us, complete with an enormous Swiss flag, red and white face paint, and a blow horn. We would’ve been glad to join in their cheers but we couldn’t tell what they were saying, or even what language the cheers were in. (French? German? Both??)
The game started slow, with no goals in the first half; Switzerland clearly dominated, though, and the play was most active at the opposite end of the field where the Swiss were on offense.
During the second half, things got more exciting. We were able to see the players up close since most of the action was now on our end—where the Swiss were now trying to score. Xherdan Shaqiri, Switzerland’s most famous player, barely missed a shot right in front of us. Finally, in the 66th minute, Josip Drmic redirected a cross into the back of the net with a powerful header to give Switzerland a 1-0 lead! The Swiss held on to their lead for the rest of the match, putting themselves one step closer to the World Cup. (Switzerland is first in its group and has now officially qualified for the tournament.)
Between that weekend and now, Dan and I went to Tenerife in the Canary Islands, Spain. I’ve been working on that blog post and it should be up soon, so stay tuned! Thanks for sticking with me so far.
Some questions for y’all:
Who are you rooting for in the 2018 World Cup?
Any wine recommendations?
Let me know in the comments, if you feel so inclined!