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Author Topic: First week  (Read 3148 times)
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Robert Skipper
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« on: January 21, 2009, 09:13:48 AM »

Saturday and Sunday we got settled in and caught up on sleep.  While he still had the van, Rudy took us to “el hipermercado” and we stocked up on groceries for the week.  When we get accustomed to our neighborhood, we'll find all the little shops and take care of our household needs piecemeal.  But it was good to get a running start on the first week.  At the store, I looked through the wine section and found that it was all strange and new.  I obviously need to do some research before I can find my way around, but the cool thing was that prices were amazingly low.  Bottles of wine were selling for as little as 0.70€ (about $1.00).  There were some pricey ones, too, but the assortment of really cheap wines was pretty impressive.  I took a gamble with a mid-priced wine (about 4.50€), called Barón de Santuy, but couldn't for the life of me figure out what kind of grape was in it.  And still can't.  It said, “Crianza 2004” on the spot where I expected the name of the grape to be, and so I took that to be a type of grape, but I was wrong.  “Crianza” only means it has been aged at least two years (for a red, one year for a white).  Crianza wines are younger and generally cheaper, and don't always improve with sitting on the shelf.  They are good table wines and should be drunk quickly, as they won't store well once opened. 

A second bottle I picked up was called “Puerta de Alcalá,” and described as “Reserva 2004.”  This one was clearly marked as made from Tempranillo grapes.  I later found that “reserva” is the second youngest wine, aged at least three years (for a red and two years for a white).  The bottle also says “vinos jeromin,” but I haven't figured that one out yet.  The longest aged wines are called “gran reserva” and are generally made from vintage grapes and can cost much more.  Gran reserva wines are aged at least five years (for a red and four for a white).  All these wines are aged for a certain amount of time in wood and that factor, too, is part of their denomination.  For instance, crianza wines have been aged at least six months in wood. 

Finally, the first time we asked for a glass of red wine, we mistakenly asked for “dos vinos rojos,” and the waitress thought we said “dos vinos riojas.”   Red wine is called “vino tinto.”  If you ask for “Riojas,” you're asking for wine from the geographic region of Riojas.  That's not such a bad thing.  The Riojas wines I've tasted so far have been very nice.

Anyway, as expected, there are little shops all over the place for groceries.  The Jeri located a really nice butcher shop, and there are several greengrocers nearby. 

The most difficult thing to get adjust to here is the cigarette smoke.  Fortunately, there is no smoking in the building where I work, but out there—well, it's a smokin' jungle out there.  When you go into a place that says “no fumar,” that doesn't mean “no smoking,” it usually means “there are a few tables at the back that are noteworthy only because they lack ash trays.” 

I'm still having trouble finding a convenient Internet connection.  There's one at the office, but I'm only there between 1:00am and 10:00am Texas time, Monday through Thursday. 
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