Sommelieres and Wine Tastings in Ecuador

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You probably weren’t aware, but the viticulture industry in Ecuador is growing. I had no idea about this until about a month ago, when I was at a café and met a guy who began a conversation with me about chocolate (surprise, surprise!) and ended up with my email address and website name. I had no idea about this until then. After that, he treated me to a glass of wine.

Growing a Fine Food Scene in Ecuador

Even if it is what you believe it is, it’s actually not precisely what you think it is. Around a week after we first met, I got an email invitation to a wine and chocolate tasting from this guy whose name is Esteban. The invitation came from him. In reality, it served as a window into the expanding fine cuisine industry in Ecuador, which is concentrated on Ecuadorian goods and some European items. Despite the fact that the chocolates that were prepared and sampled during the event were made in a more commercial form, chocolate has been a significant contributor to its recent expansion. Caoni Chocolates was both the featured and sponsored manufacturer for this event.

The Cofrada de Vino, also known as the Brotherhood of Wine, and the Universidad San Francisco de Quito were going to develop a relationship, which was the topic of discussion during the highly educational session that we went to before the event (USFQ; the same university responsible for collaborating with Carolina to build the Galapagos Science Center on San Cristobal Island). A Sommelière certificate program will soon be offered through the university by the two organizations. This program will serve as a sort of post-graduate certificate program for individuals who are already engaged in other careers, or as vocational training for those who have recently graduated from high school.

About the Sommelière Program

After hearing about what they have prepared, not only am I interested in the program myself, but my friend Esteban, who brought me to the presentation a few of Thursdays ago, is also quite enthusiastic about it. Given that I haven’t completed my studies at the university, however, I won’t be able to begin such a program until November of the following year. But now that I’ve finally seen some of northern Quito, the newest region of the city, and tried some of of the delicious things that the city has to offer, I could picture myself relocating here for such a program and working in the chocolate industry.

Completing the requirements for the credential takes roughly two years, which is to be expected (so that your palate can be properly trained over time). But it’s just for two evenings a week, and the price is far lower than other programs of a similar quality that I’ve seen offered elsewhere. Take into consideration, though, that the whole thing is spoken in Spanish. To be able to participate, you must be fluent in Spanish.

However, even if you decide not to participate, the program will still provide you with something to think about. The fact that it even exists has significant repercussions for the future of the culinary culture in Ecuador. It’s common knowledge that Ecuador is rich in agricultural potential (& mountains). You won’t be able to find such an incredible selection of fresh fruits, veggies, and herbs anywhere else. In a nation where flowers can be purchased for $2 for a dozen and avocados can be purchased from roving sellers for $1 for a bag of six, it is astonishing that the country is developing a culture of good dining.

Mindo Chocolates 77% with macadamia nuts dark bar; grown, made & sold in Ecuador.

Food for Thought & Expression

Whereas the fine flavor foods such as chocolate, wine, coffee, cheese, spirits and charcuterie used to be scarcely available in Ecuador, if present at all, there are now whole publications for it. Groups and stores in the capital city of Quito are dedicated solely to the enjoyment of such earthly pleasures. Recently, fine French pastries are falling from my lips to my hips faster than I can name them.

Previously restricted by price to the more developed countries of Europe and North America, fancy French bakeries and wine tasting clubs are popping up around the world. There are sometimes led by expats who have moved there. But more often they are started by an agricultural expert in that area, keen on informing their fellow patriots of the strong points of their country’s food. Coming from backgrounds that start with the soil and may continue into serving food in a restaurant or a bakery, these experts in their field are turning towards the benefits of appreciating their country’s agricultural bounty for themselves, and sharing those slow food observations with others.

The final goal is often not only to appreciate the small percentage of fine flavor foods produced in the country, but to improve overall quality of the versions already produced in the country. By appreciating and pointing out the high quality versions of otherwise everyday foods, they are publicly demonstrating the potential in this region, already being realized by a small percentage of producers. This is most evident in Ecuador’s fine flavor cacao & chocolate industry, which I literally got just a taste of at the Sommelière event.

There are a variety of specialized stores, and one of them is a genuine French bakery! After the tasting, we will have crème brûlée.

Appreciating Some Damn Good Wine

I witnessed a wide collection of individuals enjoying what their own nation has to offer, as well as the alternatives coming out of other countries, at the presentation that took place two weeks ago, the wine tasting that took place last night, and the art display that I attended to last night. Both evenings, I sampled two different wines, and I was quite aback by how much I loved them, especially considering the fact that I had never before thought of myself as a wine enthusiast. However, the Sauvignon Blanc from the previous evening, which developed characteristics like chocolate as it matured, was unquestionably the night’s standout performer.

In the duration of the 10 minutes that I spent savoring it, both the aroma and the tastes, which ranged from flowery to citrus to berry to roasted coffee, complimented each other well. As the wine developed its flavor, I gained a deeper understanding of its background and place of origin. I took note of specifics whose importance was lost on me if Esteban had not been there to explain it to me. “That softly roasted coffee that comes in at the very end, that’s probably owing to the fact that it was matured in barrels for some time before it was bottled. That’s probably why it comes in so lightly. That is the definition of what the term “reserva” stands for.

Merlot has a pleasant fragrance but is on the drier side of the spectrum.

He was full of such nuggets throughout the night, and you could just tell by the energy in the room that everyone was really having a good time since he was constantly making jokes and comments. Everyone who worked behind the bar had an intriguing tale to tell about how they became interested in wine and all of them understood exactly what they were talking about, down to the appropriate cheese paring. But in all seriousness, who needs an excuse?

In all, it was a very positive experience, and I cannot wait to travel back to Quito in the not too distant future so that I may learn about even more of the many cultures that are present in this ancient city and meet even more friends who will be in my heart forever. I’ll see you soon, Cofradía!

Esteban and I

Have you ever met a stranger that introduced you to something unexpectedly fascinating?


Are there Vineyards in Ecuador?

Ecuador is a nation located on the western coast of the continent of South America’s northern region. There are just a few hundred hectares dedicated to vineyards, but a far bigger area is used for the production of rum and beer.

Do wineries make money on tastings?

Wine tastings. Tasting rooms located on the winery’s premises have the potential to be significant income generators for the business. Direct-to-consumer tasting room sales result in larger profit margins since they do not include the costs of a middleman, such as those involved with selling products via a supermarket or wholesaler.

How does winery tasting work?

How Does the Process of Tasting Wine Work? If you have a reservation when you arrive to the winery, a waiter will meet you there and provide you with a number of different alternatives to sample. During the course of the tasting, you will be provided with samples gradually. Before you take a drink of the wine, you should examine its aroma, as well as the color and purity of each serving.

Are wine tastings expensive?

Tastings at the stand-up bar are recommended to cost $10–$15 for each pair. Sit-down tastings are recommended to cost between $15 and $20 for a pair. Tastings at boutique vineyards are recommended to cost at least $20 per pair. Private tours & VIP experiences: Recommended $20+ per pair.

Which country has the most area devoted to wine vineyards?

The total area of vineyards in Spain is more than that of any other country in the world. Despite this, Spain has far lower wine yields than its neighboring countries of France and Italy, which results in a total quantity of wine that is smaller.

Do you tip at winery tastings?

At the majority of wineries and tasting rooms, gratuities are always appreciated, despite the fact that they are not often requested. It is often regarded a kind and kind gesture to pay the person who is pouring your wine, particularly if you have had a pleasant experience, have sampled a greater number of wines than you had anticipated, or are with a big company.