Several people asked if I went wine tasting when I was in Brazil on vacation. The answer is, unfortunately, no.
My friend Jean, with whom we were staying, had come across a Groupon for a wine tasting. (Jean loves Groupons and finds the most intriguing things to do such as the boat tour of the harbor at Rio de Janeiro. A huge harbor!) Unfortunately, it was for the very night we were leaving to go home. However, we did have some Brazilian wine and although it was perfectly fine, it wasn’t any different from what one would pick up in a supermarket back in Las Vegas. In fact, we’d picked it up in a supermarket in Rio de Janeiro.
Chile, of course, is a famous wine producing region of South America and Argentina makes great Malbec — and at very good prices. Brazil also produces wine and Urugray does, too. But when one thinks of South American wine, Uruguay doesn’t leap to mind and neither does Brazil. All that being said …
We had a fantastic time in Brazil, no wine needed. Rio de Janeiro is mind-boggling and beautiful. The view of Ipanema Beach from Jean’s balcony was amazing. The drive up into the nearby rain forest (“the lungs of Rio”) was beautiful and we actually saw bicyclists peddling their way up the narrow, winding road that went up, up, up for miles. They must be crazy, I thought. Lois, a cyclist, was intrigued and said she and her friends would enjoy doing that. (Yeah, they’re crazy, too.)
“What did you like best about Brazil?” someone asked, and it’s hard to say. How about the park by the lagoon where all the cats hang out — quadrupeds, not refugees from the Broadway show. They just live there, seemingly unconcerned about the people and dogs walking through the park. Or how about the orchids that grow on trees? Not orchid trees, but orchids that grow on tree trunks. Or the sidewalks that are mosaics of small black and white tiles. Difficult to walk on even in walking shoes — I don’t know how those women did it in high heels. The sidewalks have different designs; the one in Copacabana is sort of wavy. The one in Ipanema is sort of geometric. And the bread! I don’t know if you can honestly call it French bread in Brazil, but it comes in baguettes and is baked 3-4 times a day so it’s always fresh and delicious.
The street behind Jean was a shopping street with all manner of lovely stores displaying elegant merchandise. There were souvenir shops, too and some American influence: Nike, Burger King, McDonalds, Subway and Starbucks. Not lots of them, but we did see one of each. (Starbucks — really — in a country known for coffee. Let’s hope they serve Brazilian coffee.)