Posts Tagged ‘wine’

catalonia as a region is famous for many things, its beautiful beaches, is great modernista architecture, its passionate football mentality  and also for its delicious cava. the latter is  called the ´´champagne of spain´´ and is produced in one of the oldest viticultural regions in europe. this region, the penedès, is located a little south-west of barcelona and definitely worth a trip if you are visiting the capital of catalonia. its bubbles and culinary traditions have been attracting tourists and sparkling wine-lovers for decades and that is not for nothing!

a small historical recap shows us that this wine producing region finds its origin back in the days of the roman empire. the specific attributes that we were used by the romans then can now be found in the wine museum of vilafranca del penedes, one of the area´s most important wine towns. then, during the time of the moorish occupation, the wine produced here was exported to countries all over europe and even beyond, to south america (we are talking about the 18th century here!).

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endless vineyards in el penedés

then, things took a very interesting turn as the phylloxera plague occurred. this plague changed the course of growth and the type of the grapes as they were now slowly changed into white ones instead of red ones. the latter resulted in the start of the production of cava around the 1870s. the white grapes are currently the most dominant ones in the region as the red wine production only plays a small role in the landscape of the vineyards in the penedès region.


white grapes now prevail in the region

the penedès area is currently seen as one of the most modern and innovative spanish wine regions. their grapes have been widely researched by wine pioneer miguel torres and he is the one who provided the region the fame it enjoys today. 95 % of all the cava produced in spain finds in origin in the penedès region and in 1991 the region got recognized as a DO region, in catalan: a denominació d’origen region. this means that the wine produced here is officially recognized and it is even seen as one of the best of spain after the rioja area.

Ruta del Vino del Penedes. Caves Pere Ventura

the famous codorniu caves in the penedes area

cava is produced using grapes from different regions and blending them into a perfect mix of delicious bubbles. if you get bored by just drinking the ´´normal´´ plain cava, you should definitely try the rosé version that consists of 3 different types of grapes, the xarel.lo, macabeo and parellada. moreover, there are many young wines produced in this region, white ones that are very fruity and crisp whereas the red one are more full-bodied and aromatic, characterized by an intense red color. although, the is apparently some choice in other wines, cava stays our favorite!


cava label

we recommend to visit the penedès as it is the centre of one of the most fascinating wine regions in spain, full of history and culture. the spanish rail system is a very handy way to travel down the penedès and from barcelona, it’s just 90 minutes to tarragona. this trip takes you along the a catalonian coast where you will find some beautiful small towns such as cadaqués, a colourful fishing village was the birthplace of salvador dali. you can stop at several wine cellars along the trip and do a winetasting while your at it! another options is to stop in the beautiful beach town sitges (check our earlier post about this famous town) and enjoy a day at the beach and a night full of partying. all in all, we can state that this regions has an overwhelming amount of choice when it comes to leisure combined with the typical catalonian culture.

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the stunning landscape of the penedian vineyards


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when we scanned our blogpost archives we realized that we do not have any posts about portugal yet nor have any suggestions for you as to what to explore and see there. Therefore, we decided to write this week´s post based on a day trip in portugal.


so just let me take you to a trip starting in oporto (also known as porto). but before we will start the trip, here is a short overview about the city.

oporto located along the douro river estuary in northern portugal, is a registered unesco world heritage site in 1996. the city’s actual name is porto, but when preceded by a definite article ‘o’ in portuguese meaning ‘the’ in english, it is written as ‘o porto’ meaning ‘the port’ in english.

being the second-largest portuguese city after lisbon, oporto is also one of the most prominent urban areas in southern europe. its rich history which dates back to many centuries enriches its cultural wealth as the city is one of the oldest european centers. varied historical monuments including the cathedral with its romanesque choir, neoclassical stock exchange and the typical portuguese manueline-style church of santa clara depict cultural richness.

since ever  oporto’s shipbuilding industry is growing and growing. its ports have been responsible for the production and export of the fortified wine to great extents. ‘port wine’, a gift to the world is named after the city of oporto.

so our trip starts in oporto and it is not a tipical sightseeing tour as you have in almost every city, no, we will take you on a cruiser and sail through the douro river valley combined with a wine testing of the famous wines of this region. the cruisertrip is offered only for small groups (max. 8 person) so that you have an
individual atmosphere and take advantage of the guide.

the source of the river is in spain, 200 km from where it spillst out into the atlantic in oporto. yet the douro valley in northern portugal between mesão frio and pinhão, where the vineyards precariously cling to the steep terraces on either side, of the river is the most beautiful part with one of the most beautiful wine regions worldwide and one of the best ways to full appreciate to travel through it by river cruise.

the landscape looks like a giant’s steps and the views are truly majestic. this is where port wines are produced in historic quintas (wine estates), and the region is a magnet for wine collectors as portugal’s most famous cult wines are made here from barca velha to quinta do noval.

d3.jpg during the day trip you also will make a stop and visit one or more (depend on the touroperator) of these boutique cellars (enjoying a private tour and wine tasting) and have lunch or dine in a traditional portuguese restaurant.

the trip is a must-do for all the people who enjoy the different tastes of wines or just want to spend a romantic day with their lover on a cruiser, enjoying the view and try the best portuguese wines.


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al centro,

pa dentro!

…would say the spanish when sharing a drink with friends. it is just one of the hispanic drinking rituals, a game, a phrase said before having the drinking which literally means up, down, to the centre, inside! and it is not the only tradition they ´serve´ with their many drinks specialties! apart from a wide range of famous wines (perhaps most notably the rioja and the ribera de duero), the spanish people have embedded in their traditions some other delicious drinks, alcoholic and non-alcoholic, which have become must-tries while in spain.


sangria – the world-renowned king of spanish drinks, it has become synonymous with the spanish summer, the august heat, or one-of-those-spanish-things you have to try in spain. it is a mix of red wine (hence the name, which comes from ´sangre´, the spanish word for ´blood´) and lemon or orange juice, a variety of fruit and for a true kick a splash of brandy or rum, depending on where it has been prepared. a true summer must!



cava – typical catalan drink from the penedes region. it is the most popular spanish sparkling wine, usually white or rosé. this drink is best appreciated during spanish celebrations, whether during a wedding, a birthday or the winter holidays.

cava by arlo j and by angela llopcava  cellary in penedes


horchata de chufa – some might say that while in valencia, there are two things you must try, one is the famous and highly-sought paella, the other one is the less-known milky-looking drink that is horchata. it is a non-alchoholic summer drink, made of water, sugar and chufas, which are valencian tigernuts. horchata is one of the main legacies left by the moors during their domination over the spanish territory, so by trying it you can be proud you have tasted some hundreds years of spanish culture!

horchata and fartons by dayer3 and by duncanhorchata is best served with another valencian treat, the sweet ´fartons´


cider – this is a typical low alcohol drink from the asturias region, with its own  protected designation of origin ´sidra de asturias´, a natural apple cider that has been produced here for centuries. the cider tradition is not as wide-spread here in spain as it is, for example, in the uk. here the cider has remained traditionally apple based, following the old asturian recipes, without mixing it with other fruit or artificial flavours.

not only in the north of spain, but throughout the country, you will be expected to enjoy a cider by pouring it the traditional way. this is done by holding the bottle horizontally high above your head and letting the drink pour slowly into the glass you are holding as low as you can. this tradition has a scientific reason behind it, as it allows the cider to oxygenate and become bubbly, but ultimately it is a fun way of drinking and it allows you to act and look quite silly doing it!

sidra by iván villar and by lluriPhotonot everybody looks this professional when pouring cider the traditional way!


rebujito – this is a typical sherry mix popular in the southern region of andalucia. it combines sherry, a mixture of sugar and soda, ice and mint. add a slice of orange and two straws to make it ideal for lovers, which is the way it was originally served! even though the idea of this cocktail is not 100% spanish, with roots in the english ´sherry cobbler´, it is now known in spain as the star of the andalucian festivals, starting with the famous april fair in seville.

rebujito by fran linerosflamenco dancers enjoying a rebujito during the april fair


orujo – a strong spirit made from the skins of grapes, known in other parts of the world as schnapps or marc. here in spain it is a type of ´aguardiente´, which shows how strong the drink is, since it can be translates as ´burning water´! the orujo is very popular in the north, in the region of cantabria (where it even has a festival, and where people take the art of tasting it very seriously) and moving a bit to the west, in galicia, where you will also find the ´orujo cream´. this is a traditional creamy mix of orujo, condensed milk, coffee and cocoa powder, with a touch of vanilla. if you are serving this drink to impress your galician friends, make sure you prepare it in advance, as it tastes better if you let it rest overnight.

orujo by aherrero and by jose.jhga chupito of aguardiente (a shot of this burning water) and its cousin, the orujo cream, which is typically home-made


´anís del mono´ – literally translated as the ´monkey´s anisette´, is another very popular liquor from badalona, in catalonia. this is a truly emblematic drink and brand in spain, everything from its history, its factory, its advertising and packaging, its founder and its story is legendary and somehow wrapped in a magical aura. more than 140 years old, the brand has allegedly used charles darwin as an inspiration for the image on the bottle, also it launched spain´s first lighted billboard in puerta del sol, in 1913. the bottle itself almost has a celebrity status, it has a statue in badalona, it has appeared in ´the godfather´ movie, it has been also painted by juan gris and exhibited in the reina sofia museum.

anis by lapendejajuan gris´ 1914 collage of the anis label, the famous bottle and the statue in badalona


drinking is, without doubt, a large tradition in the spanish life, whether at home with a meal, or out with friends, or for a special celebration, or friday after work… but their way of drinking is more a social activity than a meaningless act of drinking, it is a celebration of being alive and enjoying life, enjoying the presence of the dear ones, the quality of the food, the weather, or the never-ending discussions about the political and social events of the day…

spanish people consider drinking in moderation to be a healthy sign; because of that, when they cheer, they actually say health in spanish:


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