Salúd to Fall! Top Spain Drinks from Around the Country
Sherry in Cadiz #visitspain
Asturian cider and tapas #visitspain
Txakoli and a pintxo #visitspain
La Rioja vineyards in fall #visitspain
Sparkling glasses of Cava #visitspainLa
Pop quiz! What is Spain’s most iconic drink? If you guessed Sangria...guess again! There actually isn’t one single drink to represent Spain (we admit, it was a trick question). Rather, each region of Spain has a uniquely special drink representative of its local culture, natural resources and history. With the colder weather rolling in, what better way to keep warm this fall than exploring Spain through its incredible “drinkography”? Now, the tricky part is just deciding where to go! We’ve narrowed it down to a few of our fall-time favorites:
Sherry in Andalusia
Did you know that sherry wine can only be made in one place in the world? In the province of Cádiz lies the “Sherry Triangle”, made up of El Puerto de Santa María, San Lucar de Barrameda and Jerez de la Frontera (sherry in Spanish is actually called Jerez!). Thanks to this coastal area’s unique blend of absorbent soil, humid climate and use of the one-of-a-kind “solera system”, it’s the perfect storm for sherry production. For those of you with a sweet tooth, we recommend Cream Sherry, Pedro Ximenez, or Brandy de Jerez. If you prefer a dryer wine, go for Fino, Manzanilla or Oloroso. Or…try them all! While in the area, squeeze in a visit to one of the many bodegas for a sherry tour and sampling. Cities to put on your itinerary: Jerez de la Frontera, Cadiz, El Puerto de Santa Maria. Also served in Seville, Granada, Cordoba, and all other cities in Andalusia. Another drink to try in Andalusia: Tinto de Verano, a mix of red wine and lemon or orange soda.
Cider in Asturias
Move over apple pie, cider’s in town this fall! If you love all things apple to welcome the fall, you must head to Asturias, where more than 80% of all sidra in Spain is made. Made with fermented apples, the cider-making process can actually be traced back as far as 60 BC. It’s no wonder cider is such an integral part of Northern Spain’s culinary identity! Enter into a bustling tapas bar, and you’ll see busy waiters scurrying from group to group, holding big green bottles of cider high above their heads, pouring long streams of cider with uncanny skill into empty glasses. Cities to put on your itinerary: Oviedo, Gijón, Avilés.
Txakoli in the Basque Country
Up until the 1980s, this dry, acidic white wine was primarily a homemade wine made by families and shared with friends. However, later in the decade the Basque Country achieved Denominación de Origen for a number of its Txakoli varieties and it exploded in public popularity. Today, walk into any pintxo bar (Basque Country’s unique spin on a more elaborate version of tapas), pick a few artistically constructed pintxos that catch your eye, and enjoy Basque cuisine like a true local - with a cold, refreshing glass of txakoli. Cities to put on your itinerary: San Sebastian, Bilbao, Vitoria.
Rioja Wine in La Rioja
Ring a bell? A tour through Spain’s “drinkography” wouldn’t be complete without a stop in the rolling vineyards and culturally dense region of Spain’s most iconic wine country. Thanks to La Rioja’s fertile soil and year-round sunshine, inhabitants have been perfecting wine-making since the ancient Roman times in 20 AD. The unique blend of predominantly Tempranillo grapes (usually mixed with either Garnacha, Mazuelo or Graciano) makes this rich, full-bodied, often cherry-flavored wine a divine complement with some sharp aged manchego, cured jamón ibérico or salty green olives. But wine isn’t all that La Rioja has to offer - the region is brimming with cultural and historical sites. Alternate your wine tastings with visits to UNESCO World Heritage sites, like the Monasteries of Suso & Yuso, where the first written words in the Spanish language were born! Or, explore Nájera’s and Santo Domingo de la Calzada‘s strong historical connections to the Camino de Santiago. Wherever you are in La Rioja, you’ll find fine wine and culture at every turn - what more could you want? Cities to put on your itinerary: Logroño, Navarrete, Calahorra, San Millán de la Cogolla, Nájera, Santo Domingo de la Calzada.
Cava in Catalonia (and everywhere!)
There’s no better drink to say “salúd!” to fall than with a sparkling glass of celebratory Cava. Cava is nearly identical to Champagne in taste, but it can only be called “Cava” if it’s produced with the traditional methods that originated in Northern Spain’s region of Catalonia. “Cava” actually translates from both Spanish and Catalan to “underground cellar” or “cave”, which is essential to its traditional production process. Since its original creation in Catalonia in the late 1800s, Cava has become an integral part of Spain’s social culture, and is enjoyed in Catalonia and throughout Spain on celebratory occasions like weddings, New Year’s Eve, Christmas, and…well, whenever else you want to celebrate! If you’re in Barcelona, hop on over to the most famous Cava region in Spain, Alto Penedés, and take a tour with a winery. Cities to put on your itinerary: Barcelona, Vilafranca del Penedès, Girona.
Salúd! Which of these iconic Spain drinks will make it into your itinerary this fall? Written by: Casie Tennin October 17, 2018.