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Aquavit, Sherry education and Catavino’s 2008 Resolutions

It's a Blue One!

We’re back! And we’re excited to report that our trip was a success, despite being sideswiped by the viscous Norwegian virus that gave us a few days of achy bodies and sore throats; it wasn’t anything a few shots of Aquavit couldn’t cure. Aquavit, meaning the ‘water of life’, is a traditional Norwegian liquor that can either be made from potato or grain and is characteristically seasoned with caraway, dill or coriander. And although I am not one to appreciate a good whiskey or bourbon, finding the flavors masked by the intensity of the alcohol, I can appreciate a great Aquavit, such as Gilde. Dark caramel in color with aromas of smoke, charred wood, cooked apples and caraway, it’s a rich and complex and absolutely delicious! Having sipped Aquavit both as a digestif and as a pairing with both cured lamb and salted cod, I found myself continually fascinated with the range of foods it married beautifully with. If you can get your dainty mitts around a goblet of Aquavit, typically served in a cognac glass, I would highly suggest it!

In between our day hikes to coastal beaches lined with German WWII bunkers and breathtaking views of the Norwegian landscape experienced from the crest of a fjord, we donned our Sherry Educator hats for an evening of Sherry and Tapas. Having stuffed our luggage with sheep’s cheese from La Mancha and goat’s cheese from Lleida, cured ham, olives, turron – the traditional Spanish dessert made from almonds, and of course, sherry, we spent the evening explaining the basic truths and misconceptions of sherry wine. Fortunately, our intimate group of six thoroughly enjoyed it, so much so that as the hour chimed 1:30am, our goodbyes seemed to drag on like old friends parting forever. However, they did promise to consume many more bottles in the future, expanding their previous range of Finos as an aperitif to include Amontillado, Oloroso and PX. Whoo hoo, we’ve converted six more the dark side!

So now we’re back. As I sit writing this post in bed, unable to escape those pesky Norwegian germs, I wanted to touch base with you regarding our future goals at Catavino. Over the past few years, we’ve slowly honed our skills in providing you information on Spanish and Portuguese grapes, wineries, wines and blogging as a whole. Our posts have typically been chalk filled with research with the occasional personal piece thrown in for good measure, but we’d like to change that. For 2008, beyond sharing with you our experiences bounding across the Iberian countryside, we’d like to give you a more personal look into Ryan and Gabriella. As a husband and wife team, we’d, ideally, like to give you more of our personal thoughts on the subject, wine, food, culture and whatever other random thoughts jump out of our stream of consciousness.

Spawned by Dr. Debs brilliance, we have also committed to reading more books on wine in the new year. Having joined her Wine Book Club, something you are welcome to do as well, we have not only offered to chime in on the books we can sneak away and read from our normal schedule, but also doing a little extra reading for ourselves on subjects that interest us. For example, over the holidays, I just finished reading “Red, White and Drunk All Over” by Natalie MacLean, a book I thoroughly look forward to reviewing this coming week.

As to you, our dear readers, let us know what you’d like Catavino to experiment with this coming year. If you’re reading Catavino for the first time, welcome! And please let us know if we have tickled your palate and enticed your belly enough to keep you here with us. If not, let us know what you had hoped to read or learn. For those of you who occasionally dabble in Iberian wine, let us know what draws you back to us. Leave a comment and share your thoughts as to how Catavino is of interest to you, and areas you’d like us to cover. Finally, those die hards out there who support us through thick and thin, chime in and say hello, sharing with us what makes you so damn committed. And for anyone with a burning desire to have us cover a specific region for our newsletter, write it in the comments below!

A few other points to cover in our post. Catavino Stumble Upon! For those of you who like the game of chance, finding yourself in the wee hours playing blackjack online, you now have the opportunity go “random” on Catavino. At the top of the screen, you’ll see a button labeled “stumble”. By pressing it, you can access archived articles in a completely random order. We can’t promise you the information will be 100% relevant to the here and now, but it’s a fun way to look back in time and discover a wine, wine region or even a news event you may have missed.

Finally, winners! Now that we’re here in the New Year, it’s high time to award Richard and Troy their prizes for being so darn savvy on our Iberian wine quizzes!! Richard will be receiving a nifty Catavino t-shirt for answering correctly the amount of cava exported to the States in 2006, while Troy will receive Richard Mayson’s book, Port and the Douro for entering a port tasting note in our forum. Will both of you please send us an address to send them too, and in the case of Richard a size for your shirt!

So that’s it!!! It’s great to be back and we’ll be diving into the New Year with cases of Iberian wine and tables filled with Spanish and Portuguese food.

Gabriella and Ryan Opaz

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