WASHINGTON – With the belief that “wine tells stories,” a new project called “Grand Cata” (Great Winetasting) proposes to “tell a story of Latin America” in the United States through wine-tasting sessions in Spanish.
Two young Latinos open the doors in Washington next Tuesday to what they call “a space for uniting Latin American cultures,” one of the founders, Julio Robledo, a Chilean who has lived almost 10 years in the U.S., told EFE.
The Grand Cata gives people a chance to learn about wine and learn Spanish at the same time, since its workshops on oenology are also classes in the language.
The concept of wine and consequently of gastronomy is taken as a “badge of identity,” and, at the same time, “a driver of sociability,” said the other founder of the project, Pedro Rodriguez, originally from Puerto Rico.
The two partners speak with one voice about wine’s power as a “storyteller,” since each bottle reflects elements of geography, history and even art and the environment.
Both feel that “the wines of Latin America have not been well represented” and that they are “unexplored terrain” on the U.S. market, which so venerates French vintages, Robledo said.
So they made it their mission to travel around the Americas and the Mediterranean to find and choose the winegrowers they wanted to work with, mostly family businesses using traditional artisanal and organic methods.
Their criterion for selecting wines is that they must be “honest,” without pretension but altogether free of “industrialized processes” that homogenize flavors, Robledo said.
The result is a selection of 400 wines and liqueurs from 17 countries of Latin America and the so-called “heritage countries” – Spain, Portugal and Italy – that first brought the grape to the Americas.
“The expansion of wine country was parallel to the process of colonization,” since the first vineyards of the Americas were planted in Cuba by Spaniards in the 16th century, and later followed the conquistadors to Mexico and down the South American continent, Robledo said in answer to a question that called for a brief oenological history.
Between tastings of Italian and Uruguayan wine, typical of the daily winetastings open to the public, Robledo was giving another example of how the partners combine history with gastronomy in Spanish.