Quick – name a European country famous for making wine –
If you said France, you are boring. SPAIN is the answer I was looking for. Some of the oldest and most interesting European wines still in production today come from Spain.
The Canaanite tribe of the Phoenician civilization founded the city of Cádiz sometime during the 10th and 9th centuries B.C. At the time the city was used as a handy trading post. It is believed that these people brought grape vines to the area as well as the knowledge of how to produce wine from the grapes from the Middle East.
The Phoenicians were followed by the Ancient Greeks who brought knowledge of how to make another product from the grapes: arrope. Arrope is a dark coloured syrup that is made from grape juice and is often used to sweeten wine.
This meant that by the time the Romans conquered the area in around 200 B.C., the region of Cádiz already had a long history in the cultivation of vines as well as strong winemaking industry. Under 3 centuries of Roman rule, the wine industry developed and soon the wines from the Spanish region were being consumed across the Roman Empire. At this time it was known ‘Ceretanum’ which means ‘wine from Ceret’, the early name for the drink which we now know as Sherry. The drink was first recorded by the Roman poet, Martial, who said that the drink was popular amongst the upper circles of Romans. It was also during Roman times that the process of boiling grape must to produce a sweet syrup and then using it to sweeten wines became very popular in the region of Cádiz. – spanish-wines.org
The Spanish were, by far, the biggest influence in New World wines; planting vines in South American starting in the 1540’s. But their generous gift came at a price. The price was global catastrophe. The last half of the 1800’s were not the best of times in the world – Cholera, Typhus, Influenza, Dysentery and Small Pox were running rampant around the globe. As was the phylloxera plague, which wiped out nearly all of the Old World Vineyards. Spain was one of the last European countries to experience the phylloxera plague and by the time it reached Spain, a cure had already been discovered. The cure, in fact, can also be attributed in part to Spain as it consisted of grafting the New World vines onto Old World one’s creating a hybrid that could resist the plague.
But the Spanish didn’t just stop at exporting wine culture across the globe – consequently both destroying and saving cultures of all sorts in one swell foop – they also make some pretty famous wine cocktails that are synonymous with Mexican restaurants every where.
- Sangria – The most famous Spanish cocktail made with red wine, fruit and sugar
- Queimada – An old Galician cocktail which has its own spell
- Agua de Valencia – An improvised cocktail that became all the rage in the Community of Valencia
- Calimocho and Tinto de Verano – Two cheap and cheerful red wine cocktails
Rebujito – This is a popular cocktail that you might see if you visit Sevilla in the region of Andalusia. It is normally drunk during the ‘Feria de Abril’ or ‘April Fair’ and goes well with some traditional Spanish tapas.
- 1/2 fino wine
- 1/2 soda
This drink is similar to a white wine spritzer but the Spanish tend to use a soda with a strong lemon flavour. The drink is extremely easy to make, especially with its 50:50 ratio. However if you have a sweet tooth, or are just teetotal, then you could always adjust it to include more lemonade than wine.