Important Aromas: Touring Cousiño Macul Winery

 

Wine has always fallen into one of two categories for me: ways that college kids embarrass themselves, and ways useless cultural capital makes some people better than others (See chart below). That being said, I’m twenty-five and began to drink alcohol a year and a half ago, so I never had much to work with.

Cousiño Macul Patio

I’m pleased to say that after touring the vineyard and winery Cousiño Macul and watching the documentary Somm, I now have enough knowledge to appreciate wine.  Theoretically.

After five years, three winery tours, and finally tasting wine, my wine knowledge has grown substantially and can be summed up by the informative video below:

Touring Cousiño Macul

Cousiño Macul Entrance

Since its founding in 1856, Cousiño Macul has remained under the complete ownership of the Cousiño family, which sets it apart from other vineyards established in the 19th century. Six generations later, the cultivation and production is split between the Macul site and another site in Buin.  However, the Macul site gets all the action, in part because of its beautiful and historic French construction.  (Side note, Macul is mapudungun for “right hand.”)

Our BFF, Matías Cousiño; notice Charles is "Macul," mapudungun for "right hand."

Our BFF, Matías Cousiño; Charles is Macul

Why here?  One of the great things about Chilean wines is that the weather and soil conditions are ideal for producing wine grapes:

  • vineyards receive a lot of sunlight;
  • the proximity to the Andes means a huge variation in daytime and nighttime temperatures, which helps maintain the grapes’ acidity;
  • it basically only rains in the winter, which keeps the grapes safe from many fungi and other threats;
  • there are plenty of sloped landscapes…

…the list goes on.

 

Wine barrels Cousiño Macul

Traditional barrels

And so, Chilean wine is increasingly popular worldwide: around 65 percent of Cousiño Macul’s wine production is exported around the world.

It is also because they keep their gender bias in tact.  You will be pleased to know that the grapes are hand-picked by women.  Because we are more delicate.  Which is also why there are more female surgeons than male surgeons… right?

For information on hours, directions, and booking a tour, check out the vineyard’s website here.  A tour costs $9.000, which includes wine tasting and a special Cousiño Macul wine glass.

 Drinking vs. Tasting: Story Time!

Wine barrels in Cousiño Macul

Edwin, Charles, and I chose the perfect time for a winery tour.  The weather was gorgeous, but apparently not too many people are interested in drinking wine at eleven o’clock on a Wednesday morning.

Consequently, we had Álvaro—chef, sommelier, and tour guide extraordinaire—all to ourselves.  And we were prepared to shamelessly ask more questions than he’d probably heard all year… I warned him that we knew nothing about wine.

We passed the time asking questions, “tasting” wine, and joking about wine culture (read: I was probably mocking more than simply joking).  At some point, Charles offered that a certain wine “smelled strong.”

Álvaro replied, “Yes, it has an important aroma.”

I couldn’t help but comment: the difference between a sommelier and your everyday wine drinker is that the former knows that wine has “an important aroma”—NOT a strong smell.

Our ignorance must have become painful to Álvaro, because he finally responded to one of our questions with, “Ustedes están tomando el vino, no lo están degustando.”  (“You guys are drinking the wine; you’re not tasting it.”)

He disappeared for a moment, returning with a wine glass, which he waved around until the cardboard smell was gone from inside it.  And then he did exactly what the wine snob in the video above had told me to do.

What I’ve learned:

This is science, I promise you.

This is science, I promise you.

Extra!  I recently published “The Sommelier,” a poem inspired in part by this experience, in RiverLit No.14.

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Kicking Dogs: Angry Chileans

Chilensis tends to get most exciting when people are really angry.  Nothing quite beats counting how many times the neighbors use a form of “huevón” when they’re yelling at each other.

But today, we’re just going to cover some basic ways to point out that someone is angry.

Estar chato

Or estar harto: to be fed up.  When I say I’m chata, it means I’m on the verge of getting pissed.  You will often hear people say that certain things or people “have” them chato or harto.

Estos trámites me tienen chato.  (This paper work is pissing me off.)

Choreado

Ticked off.  This is a little less angry than cabreado, which is used frequently in Chile, but I guess it’s also used in Spain, so I’m officially leaving it out.  Regardless, the little boy in the video below gives a fantastic performance of choreado

Empelotado

While this can also mean “en pelota” or “butt naked,” in certain contexts it means really angry.  Or, in the case of this father who protested the high costs of education while naked, it means both.

Emputecido

Girlfriend throws him a surprise party; he gets pissed because she hides things from him

In normal Spanish, emputecer is to prostitute oneself.  In Chile, it means to get really angry.  I mean beside yourself, fuming angry.

How or why it made the transition, I’m not sure.  Our best guess is that when angry, you might run about saying puta a whole lot.  Any other guesses?

Andar pateando la perra

Jorge Sampaoli anda pateando la perra

You know when you’re so angry you just want to kick a dog?  Specifically a female dog?  Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to kick a dog… but I know what it’s like to be so miffed that I’m walking around kicking at the air and muttering under my breath.

Jorge Sampaoli, the coach for Chile’s national soccer team, is pictured to the right, kicking a dog after Chile and Spain tie during overtime.

That’s it for today, folks!  Have a good weekend, keep calm, and don’t kick dogs.

Arañas de Rincón: Trophies of 2013

Today I’d like to commemorate the several Chilean recluse spiders who have died at the hands of Edwin or myself over the past couple of months.  After the one I blogged about in September, I’ve decided to document their tragic deaths, basically so that I can have the pictures as trophies.

Now, I must first say that I love spiders.  I had never been afraid of spiders up until this point—between living in Vermont and adoring Charlotte’s Web, I’ve never had a compelling reason to dislike them.  I’d never met a spider that could kill me before.

And then I saw my first araña de rincón, the Chilean recluse spider.  She was perched carefully above the doorframe.  She was quite large, maybe a little under two inches including the legs.  Edwin yelled, killed her, and then I became afraid of these Chilean recluses.

Meet the Chilean Recluse

Araña de rincón en el rincón!Why are they so scary?  First of all, they’re in your house.  Second, I’m not a huge fan of necrosis or possible death.

The spider’s names tell us quite a bit about its behavior: it is often found in corners (rincón) and is reclusive, meaning it usually won’t attack you.  In fact, a Chilean recluse probably won’t bite you unless it’s pressed against your skin.  That’s the good news.

The bad news is that, since they’re reclusive, they hide in dark, damp places, such as your bathroom cabinets, your closet, or that pile of clothes that you left at the foot of the bed last night.  And you don’t know they’re there.

The other bad thing is that if they bite you, your skin turns into a gaping, infected wound that either does not heal or else heals very slowly.  If you don’t believe me, just search “Chilean recluse spider bites.”  Not for the weak of heart.

Ways to identify the araña de rincón

Male Chilean recluse spider

  • Brown body and legs; the thorax is slightly lighter than the abdomen and often has a mark on it that resembles a violin (hence the nickname “fiddleback spider” in English)
  • About one to four centimeters in length, including the legs
  • Moves incredibly fast in comparison with other spiders and Spiderman
  • Has six eyes instead of eight

I love you, tiger spider!

Please note that this is quite different from the araña tigre, which cannibalizes the araña de rincón.  This spider has long, spindly legs that can be three times the length of its body.

Two things that come to mind when you see la tigre: 1.) O, blessèd spider!  Depart not from my bedside! 2.) SH***********OT WHERE ARE THE ARAÑAS DE RINCÓN???

Prevention and treatment of bites

The summertime is the busy season for Chilean recluse spider.  They reproduce and hunt more in the summer than any other time of the year, and so you should be especially wary if you’re here to enjoy the heat.

  • When getting clothing, shoes, or other items from a closet or dresser, make sure to shake them out before putting them on.
  • Check the bed sheets before going to sleep.
  • Don’t play in closets or under the bed… or anyplace you might go if you were a spider looking for a dark, quiet place to KILL.
  • Clean regularly!  Move your furniture and other things around to scare those suckers away.
  • DON’T KILL THE TIGER SPIDERS (see pic above): they eat the Chilean recluse and do you no harm!  Seriously, check it out.

If you are bitten:

  • If possible, catch or kill the spider so that you can bring it with you for identification
  • Usually there won’t be pain at first, but the bite will gradually start to redden
  • Apply ice to the bite to slow the process
  • Wash the area with soap and water
  • Get to a hospital for immediate medical attention.  This is very time sensitive!

And with that…

Happy New Year!

Stay cool!  Stay safe!  I, personally, will be heading back to the beautiful snow and ice of the Green Mountain State in another two weeks, so I will be recluse free!

Winter Blues in the Summer: Chilenismos for sadness

Ok, so I don’t have the winter blues, considering I’m in the Southern Hemisphere and it’s summer here.  Also, I never get the winter blues; it’s more like a year-long fluctuation between bedridden and seemingly functional.  What’s that called?

The long and short of it is that I haven’t been posting as often as I want to.  Here are some of my excuses:

Ando bajoneada

gatito bajoneadoA bajón is literally a fall or sharp drop, and when you apply that to moods you get depression or something like it.  (When you apply it to substance abuse, well… that’s something else.)  Feeling “bajoneado” is like feeling blue.  You can also use this in verb form: bajonearse.  For example,

Después de que perdió Sfeir, me bajoneé demasiado.

Estoy achacada

In normal people Spanish, achacar means to put the blame on someone.  In Chilensis, achacarse means “to get depressed,” and a person who is achacao is burdened with all sorts of problems, overwhelmed with stress, anxiety, or sadness.

When people remark on how I look so happy all the time…

Estoy depre

Awww, sounds cute!  It’s like depresión, but shorter!

I think we run a constant line between making light of depression and wanting it to be understood for the serious and debilitating illness that it is (as I am demonstrating with this tongue-in-cheek post).  Our inadequate use of the little vocabulary that we do have exacerbates this gap in understanding.  Andrew Solomon describes this phenomenon as

a strange poverty of the English language, and indeed of many other languages, that we use this same word, depression, to describe how a kid feels when it rains on his birthday, and to describe how somebody feels the minute before they commit suicide.

Estoy “down”

Un cachorrito que anda down.

Yup, another case of throwing around English phrases.  I don’t know that everyone will understand you if you say this, but most will.  If they don’t, just show them this picture of depressed puppy.  They’ll get the message pretty quickly.

Summertime Sadness or Sickness?

It’s unfortunate that these ways of describing emotions make it hard to explain my experience with an illness.  Usually, I tell people that I’m sick, that I’m stuck in bed, that I’m nauseated, achy, light-headed, fatigued, etc.—which is all true, and all of those are possible symptoms of depression.

Now, I don’t want you all to think I’m like this guy, but it’s important to acknowledge the sickness, to treat some of what I think and feel as part of the depression and separate from me.  Depression should be a sickness that you can talk about the way that you could talk about a cancer or something else that alters your daily life, but not who you essentially are.

How do you think we can improve conversation about mental health?

Chilenismos and Holiday Decorations

It might surprise you to know that even though it’s summer here in Chile, they are going to go ahead and celebrate Christmas anyway.  It certainly surprised me.  That’s the true Christmas spirit: overcome all obstacles for a little holiday cheer.  It’s heroic, really.

I love the fake snow.

I love the fake snow.

They don’t even try to cushion the blow.  In fact, Santas are still dressed in ridiculous North Pole suits, and “White Christmas” is still heard jovially in the streets.  In Spanish.  (It’s not like they don’t know what “blanca navidad” is about.)  My mother-in-law even told me it didn’t seem strange to her!  Poor soul.

The Christmas trees are up in offices, houses, malls, and the streets.  Poinsettias and wreaths hang from the lampposts.  Some people have even put out inflatable snowmen and reindeer in their front yards.

I just can’t get over it.

Halloween aND Christmas??This has all been more ridiculous considering Chileans have been milking it since October.  OCTOBER.  They don’t have Thanksgiving to break it up, so… why not set the Christmas stuff next to the Halloween stuff?

More interesting, however, is the amount of gringo culture reflected in these celebrations and decorations.  But I’ll talk about cultural transfer another day.  Let’s get to the chilenismos.

Pascua

This word is how Chileans say navidad or Christmas.  Kind of.  Because it’s also the word for Easter and Passover (you know, from the Hebrew pesach/פסח).  And Easter Island, which is part of Chile, is called Isla de Pascua.  Anyhow, here are some other things that contain pascua.

El Viejito Pascuero

Surfing SantaSanta Claus is known by many names all over the world, but Chile is the only place to affectionately call him “the little old Christmas man.”  The men who dress up as el viejo pascuero here really have hearts of gold—I mean, apart from systematically lying to children—it’s way too hot to be wearing that suit!

Pan de Pascua

image from kaminokultural.blogspot

A traditional bread that resembles fruitcake… but it’s generally more revered in Chile than fruitcakes are in the US.  Also, if someone has a ton of acne, you might mention that their face looks like pan de pascua.  If you were a jerk.

Cola de Mono

Monkey’s tail!  This is like a Chilean version of eggnog… Except it has milk, coffee, sugar, spices, and aguardiente (firewater! or “alcohol prepared with local ingredients”).  No, it doesn’t include monkeys, but there are some interesting theories about how the drink got its name.

Cola de mono is a very traditional Christmas drink, and if you’re interested in making a glass or two to go along with your pan de pascua, check out the cooking show below on how to make both.

Engañito

Knowing that this word comes from engañar, which means “to decieve,” you might not think you would like to receive an engañito.  But it’s actually the Chilean word for a little gift that may not be worth too much money, but it’s an expression of love and caring for the other person nevertheless.

It’s like saying, “Here, I got you a little something for your birthday.  It’s nothing big…”

It could be something that didn’t cost the other person much.  For example, we have some wonderful tíos who came to our Vermont wedding and bought us little souvenirs from the locale.  They told Edwin to give them to me for our first anniversary.  That’s an engañito—it probably only cost them a couple bucks, but it was really special.

Happy holidays to all!

What’s your favorite holiday phrase?  Any chilenismos that I missed?

Trámites: Elusive Carrots on Strings (Part 2)

Carrot on string

I have finally procured residency.

As you’ll remember from Part 1, we went in circles for quite some time before we figured out what was required for me to get residency as the spouse of a Chilean.

This post is about the second round of blunders, which eventually results in obtaining residency.

First stop…

Departamento de Legalizaciones del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores

After a couple of phone calls, we were told that these folks could do all the paperwork to get our marriage certified for us.  So we headed to Agustinas 1320.

The woman we talked to first told us that it wasn’t possible to do what we were trying to do.  But we had already confirmed that this department could do all the paperwork to legalize our marriage in Chile.

She then told us, “Well, yes, you can; but it is a complicated process and will take between two and four months.”

We opted to do it on our own and called up…

Uncle Paul and Phil at the Chilean Consulate in Boston

Paul and Phil Garber are honorary consuls that operate out of their house’s basement in Brighton, Massachusetts.

I called and explained my situation.

“Let me get this straight,” came the snarky Bostonian voice, “you just showed up in Chile without a visa and hoped for the best?”

I paused and muttered some sheepish affirmation.

“That was a good idea.”

He went on to explain that I needed to get the certificate signed by my state and then brought in—in person—for them to sign the certificate.

Vermont’s Secretary of State Continue reading

¡!Chilenismos: Dumb and Dumber

You need today’s lesson in Chilenismos for two reasons: to know when you’re doing something a Chilean deems stupid, and to describe everything about your teenage self.

Basically, these are the words to enjoy whenever you spend an evening reading the latest Darwin awards.

Ahuevonado:

Coming from arguably the most typical Chilenismo out there (huevón, for those of you who are really gil), this is the equivalent of “dumb@$$.”  It can be said under your breath with a hopeless shake of the head… or very angrily at soccer games.  You’ll notice that, as with huevón, the spelling varies quite a bit.

amermeladoAmermelado:

Check out the root of this word: mermelada, or jam.  Now imagine the movement of the sticky mush that is jam… that’s you.  So sloooooooow and stuuuupid.  Again, it’s not nice to say this.

Asopado:

Asopado’s root is sopa, or “soup.”  But this word gives the feeling you have soup instead of brains.  For example, everything about Napoleon Dynamite makes him look asopado.  Blank stare, mouth open, maybe even a little drool coming out of the corner of your mouth…. It’s like:

“Hey, soup for brains!  Anyone in there??”

Agilado:

This is stronger than the food comparisons.  Calling someone gil is like calling them an idiot or worse.  I mean, some people are clueless and harmless like Napoleon, and some people are jerks on top of being stupid.  That’s agilado for you.  (Seriously, make out on your own car.)

Weastancio*:

Okay, this is yet another play on huevón or huevada.  I’m sorry, but there are a lot of them.  This kind of makes it sound like the dude’s name is huevón.

“Stupid?  Stupid’s my middle name.”

Use them wisely, friends.

Are there any I missed?

*Thanks to Mauricio for suggesting güeastancio!  I promise to stop calling you that…