Temper Temper Tempranillo

Your intrepid liquor reporter was enjoying the half-price pizza night at the Wildfire Saloon in Langdon last Sunday.

Unfortunately, the night didn’t begin well, as I was trying to chat up this cute little redheaded beerslinger behind the bar, but she was somehow resistant to my charm and wit, and would not hand over her phone number, despite all my sly and mesmerizing pleas to the contrary.

It’s almost like hot bartendrixes wearing short shorts get hit on by slurring patrons like your humble narrator on a regular basis.

Luckily, a smouldering Spanish beauty ambled into the bar while I was nursing my wounds of rejection with a tall cold one, and sat down a few barstools to the left of me. Think of Salma Hayek, but taller and less high-strung. Just the kind of lovely lady that your intrepid liquor reporter needs to bounce back from the sting of earlier rejections.

Sensing an opening, I ordered one of the few Spanish wines on the menu at the Wildfire Saloon, and used my half-forgotten grade school Spanish to woo her with a story of Spanish wines.

As the wine snobs in the audience will already be aware, the holy trinity of France/Italy/Spain make up the “Big 3” of the old-world wine producers.

Spain actually has the most acres of planted vineyards, but still comes in third place for actual wine production. This is because the yields from each vine are lower in Spain, due to the drier soil conditions found there.

It has been the experience of your intrepid liquor reporter that attractive Spanish women are not easily picked up in bars with a white wine, so let’s talk about the Spanish reds.

Wine production started in the Phoenician period around 1100BCE, and was considered the finest wine of the known world for centuries.

However, the Moorish invaders crossing from the Strait of Gibraltar in the year 711 banned the consumption of alcohol for religious reasons.

Spain was basically a dry country for more than 700 years, until the Moors were toppled in 1492, the same year a Spanish explorer named Christopher Columbus discovered the New World.

The Spanish vineyards quickly sprung back to life in 1492, with the entire New World opening up as an export market.

Interestingly, while there are over 600 different grape varietals grown in Spain, Tempranillo and Garnacha make up the bulk of red wine production.

The Tempranillo grape is widely considered the quintessential Spanish grape, having originated in Northern Spain thousands of years ago. The name Temprano literally means “early”, referring to the tendency of this grape to mature earlier in the growing season that most other varietals.

This makes the Tempranillo grape able to adapt to cooler climates with a shorter growing season, as they need less time to ripen on the vine before harvesting.

So, while Spain is the traditional home of the Tempranillo grape, and is still responsible for most of the world production, it has also thrived in the New World.

Argentina and Australia have both done very well with Tempranillo production, with some of the upstart young vintners producing wines that are the envy of their Old World counterparts.

The low cost of production in Argentina can also make Spanish wines of equivalent quality price themselves out of the value market, as the Spanish vineyards are paying European levels of wages, which are considerably higher than in South America.

Discussing all this with the smouldering Spanish beauty I was chatting up at the bar in my broken Spanish must have gotten her patriotic juices flowing, as I got not only her numero de telefono, but even a beso or two when I left.

Naturally, we made plans for a romantic dinner back at my place a few days later, where I made sure to have a good assortment of Spanish wines on hand to pique her interest, and maybe even enough for me to peek at her interests.

So, the next time your cheesy pickup lines are getting you shot out of the saddle by the cute little redheaded bartendrix at the Wildfire Saloon, try ordering yourself a Spanish wine and see if it takes you as far as it took your humble narrator.

About the author

Nick Jeffrey

Nick Jeffrey

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