wines and liqueurs in SAN SEBASTIAN
Basque Country is situated in the north of Spain on the Cantabrian hills along the Atlantic coast. Its soil is generously irrigated with rain and creates a favorable climate for a wine-making. And even though there is not so much sun as in the south, salty sea wind and humidity allow growing unique grapes and apples. Gourmet restaurants with Michelin stars and traditional bars in the Old Town have something to offer not only to gasto tourists but also to wine tasting enthusiasts. Basque Country is famous for its delicate sparkling wines, apple cider and strong liqueurs.
Wine shops recommendations:
Mimo San Sebastián
Republica Argentina, 4
It is impossible not to mention wine while talking about Spain and the same can be said Txacoli and the Basque Country. This is a unique sparkling wine that is produced only in the north of Spain. Getaria, Vizcaya and Alava are only regions that produce Txacoli. Mild winters, heavy rainfall and a wet microclimates allow to grow a unique grape type called Ondarribi. This grape is what gives Txacoli its delicate fruity taste, unique sourness and light sparkling. Depending on the combination of grape, the drink may have a pale yellow, pinkish or green tint. Excepts of high cuisine advise to combine it with any varieties of fish and seafood.
Jose Pariente Verdejo Blanco
Finca La Colina Verdejo Cien
If while in San Sebastian you would desire Spanish classics, do not forget that Basque Country borders Rioja region. This means that only one and a half hours from the city there are the best wineries in the world. There you can taste famous deep, tart and velvety wines of the region and look at the wine production process. Accompanied by a guide you will be allowed to look into the wine tanks, inhale the aroma of oak barrels and go down to the cellars, where the bottles of wine are stored at a certain temperature, light and humidity. Winery tours end with tastings during which sommeliers tell about wine classifications based on aging and type of wine: red, white or pink. If red wine aged for at least 24 months six of which it was in oak barrels, then it is classified as Crianza. If winemakers decide to age it for at least 36 months (with 12 months in barrels), then it receives a Reserva classification. And the most honorable title Gran Reserva is given to red wines aged for at least 60 months with at least 18 months in oak barrels. Less stringent rules apply to white and rosé wines, but the degree of aging is maintained.
Basque Country and Asturias are the two main regions in north Spain where cider is produced. Basque cider is considered to be drier and more acidic, while Asturian one is sweeter. Cider season in Donostia begins on January 20th - the day of St.Sebastian who was a patron of the city. Exactly by this time juice from local apples, gathered in the gardens in September, matures. It is sealed in huge wooden barrels and ferments naturally without any additives. The maturation process lasts about four months. When cider is ready, locals go to cider houses to taste it. Here he is poured into a glass straight from the barrel with a thin stream, which bounces of the glass and mixes cider with oxygen making the drink particularly tasty. Before going to the cellar, visitors wait for the invitation of the cider house owner. Proclaiming "Choch", he opens one cider barrel after another for guests. Cider serving is also spectacular in restaurants and bars, where a waiter raises a bottle half a meter above the glass and with a sniper accuracy pours a drink. Cider goes well with spicy Txistorra - a pork sausage and traditional beef tenderloin on the bone called Txuleta.
The exquisite town on the Atlantic coast has its own traditions of vermouth consumption. This medium strength drink, infused with wormwood and other herbs, is great to have as an aperitif before meals. Residents of San Sebastian prefer to drink it in bars, cafes and terraces. If you take a walk on Sunday around noon, you can see elegantly dressed Donostiarrans who meet with friends before lunch to enjoy a glass of vermouth. It is believed that this drink should create a balance of three tastes: bitter, sweet and sour, leaving a herbal aftertaste. In the Basque Country there is its own way to drink vermouth and it's called "Marianito" - a small portion of vermouth on the rocks with an orange slice and an olive.
PATXARAN + ORUJO
A famous pacharan can be considered a truly royal drink as it was was preferred by the kings of Navarra in the middle of the century during a feast. Now this liqueur, with strength from 20 to 30 degrees, is served after a meal as a digestive. Basque Country and Navarra are the only two regions in the north Spain that have a right to manufacture it. The name pacharan comes from the Basque baso aran, which means wild plum or turn. Fruits mature on alcohol often with an addition of cinnamon, coffee beans, caramel or anise. This gives tart or sweet taste to a traditional plum flavor.
El Afilador Orujo
Make sure to try Orujo if you prefer even a stronger drink. Its alcohol level varies from 30 to 60 degrees. Orujo is traditionally made by distilling grape, which remains after the first stage of fermentation of wine. To add a spicy taste, field herbs, honey or coffee are added to some varieties of the Orujo, and then they are drawn into oak barrels for several years. As a result, clear liqueur acquires an amber hue. Just like Patxaran, Basques prefer to drink chilled Orujo after eating. Both of these drinks are always be tried in well-known restaurants or any bar.