I attended a beautiful wine tasting last evening with my good friends, and of course I made some new friends as well. It's impossible to share a bottle of wine with someone and not become friends. In Panama, becoming friends means exchanging phone numbers and cheek kisses. Not air kisses--which we Dallas girls do to avoid messing up our lipstick--but actual lips-meeting-flesh cheek kisses. It takes a while to get used to your face and arms being petted like you're a favorite lapdog, but once you get over the North American prudishness about being caressed by almost-strangers, it's actually quite nice. As they say, when in Panama...
The wine tasting was held at Ranchos Los Toros, a B&B off the beaten path. It's owned by a jovial American expat named Joe Wolmoth. He has an outdoor restaurant area, but the wine tasting was held in a beautiful wine tasting room with next to the walk-in wine cellar. My heart rate accelerated with adrenaline as I walked into Joe's wine cellar. Would I go home or would I spend the night in the wine cellar, dreaming happy dreams about wine? It was a coin toss.
The wine tasting wasn't just a wine tasting, it was a 5-course wine pairing dinner. Jorge, the wine educator, told us about the wines we were drinking from William Cole Winery in Chile. We started with a sauvignon blanc paired with the best ceviche I've ever had. Aside from the corvina, onions, lime and cilantro that are typical to ceviche, this also had grapes and cream cheese. It was a perfect pairing with the limey sauvignon blanc.
The next course was called a salad, but there wasn't a lettuce leaf to be found. It was a mixture of corn, artichoke hearts, marinated hearts of palm (YUM!), feta cheese, olive oil and balsamic. We paired this with a bright, unoaked chardonnay.
We enjoyed 2 more courses, that included a cheese platter with a merlot, and a steak with a cabernet sauvignon. The final course was a decadent chocolate cake paired with port. I haven't had very many sweets since I've moved to Panama, so the cake was extra delicious.
At the end of the evening I said goodbye to all of my new friends, promising to call as I actually pressed my lips to their cheeks. Or at least I would see them at the next wine dinner in January.