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Tag Archives: Madrid

Christmas in Spain: How the Natives Dive into the Holiday Season

Christmas in Spain begins the weekend of December 8th on the day of the “Inmaculada” Saint. As Christmas is predominantly a religious holiday in Spain, despite the recent adoption of more western traditions, the days building up to the birth of Jesus and the gift of the Magi are still a time for veneration. If you’re ever in Madrid for this season, and you want to celebrate as the locals do, this guide will help you truly feel, eat and celebrate like a Madrileño! On December 8th, Spaniards from the surrounding pueblos make a pilgrimage to the city center to revel in a time honored tradition, which hardly changes from year to year. The first stop is Puerta del Sol, […]

The Best Tapas and Wine Bars in Madrid

If you’re eager to taste a wide variety of tapas in Madrid, the one main issue you will have is choosing where to go. Navigating the labyrinthine streets with bars that are absolutely packed with people on both sides of the streets, makes you pause in hesitation wondering which one is best? Well, here is a list of my personal favorites. Some have your traditional fare, while others are more dedicated to certain specialties, such as anchovies or croquetas. Either way, you can’t go wrong, and with tapas, the rule is to have one tapa here, and then mosey on to the next. MADRID CITY CENTER La Anchoíta – Jesús, 4 (Metro: Anton Martin) If you love anchovies, this is the […]

Trashumancia: Celebrating Humanity through Woolly Sheep

Editor’s Note: In a fast pace world filled with sleek technology, John Perry highlights a Spanish festival dedicated to the bleating creatures that have provided us food and livelihood for centuries. Those familiar with Spain have undoubtedly heard of the encierros (running of the bulls) in Pamplona, but there are other events where Spaniards also celebrate animals invading their everyday urban space. One of them is the Fiesta de la Trashumancia, when traffic is completely cut to allow herds of livestock –mainly sheep- to parade through Madrid’s most bustling and upscale areas. Imagine London’s Piccadilly Circus full of sheep instead of cars and pedestrians! Celebrated once a year –generally in early autumn- this bleating procession through the city began as a […]

Part 2: Barcelona versus Madrid – An age old gastonomic rivalry

Editor’s Note: Today we would like to bring you Part 2 of Carla Bigio’s piece on what makes each Madrid the gastronomic giant of Spain. Click here to read Part I on Barcelona.  If I could describe Madrid in one word, it would be tradition. Tradition reigns, in the food, the service and the style. Polar opposite to Barcelona, capital of spontaneous bursts of creativity – Madrid has its moments – but you have to respect the pride in Madrid’s reluctance to stray from its heritage and roots. Only 3 months in, and I could tell that there is a completely different vibe in this spanning Metropolis. People here enjoy food, and they enjoy eating out. Just stroll through the […]

The Textures of Porto: What Makes a City Beautiful?

Have you ever struggled to see what someone else finds beautiful? “Look!” your partner says with a smile, “Isn’t that tree absolutely beautiful?!” Staring at the emaciated lopsided trunk with 3 blooming red flowers, you smile, “Yeah hon, it’s sweet, but not sure I’d call that beautiful.” “What do you mean? It’s stunning in this light? How could you not see it?” It’s hard to “see” what someone else sees, isn’t it? I say this because Ryan and I had a very similar experience of Porto. If I’m to be honest, I wasn’t ecstatic to move to a city known for its gray wet skies and gale force winds. Having spent many vacations in Maine as a child, I was perfectly […]

Part 1: Barcelona versus Madrid – An age old gastonomic rivalry

Editor’s Note: Today we would like to introduce Carla Bigio, a passionate chef based in Madrid. But her story is not so simple, originally from Madrid, from an Italian/Colombian mother and a Egyptian/Syrian father, she bounced around the world from the Bahamas to Switzerland before finding herself in the center of Spain whipping up dishes that lights her international soul on fire. Having spent a significant time in Barcelona and Madrid, we asked her feedback on what makes each city the gastronomic giant of Spain. Read Part 2 here. Barcelona-  One woman’s search for traditional food in the birthplace of Molecular Gastronomy From a tourist’s perspective, Spain is Spain, right?  Nothing could be farther than the truth. Barcelona, and Catalonia […]

Word to the Wise: Never Order Suckling Pig on Valentine’s Day

Editor’s Note:  Loosely based on my parent’s honeymoon back in 1969, I couldn’t resist adding a modern spin for the holiday. It’s Valentine’s Day in Madrid, and you’ve got everything for that day completely set. You’re not like those other guys who think a bouquet of roses and the whisperings of a few sweet nothings in your girl’s ear will woo her into submission. Oh no, you’re suave, sexy, Latino in style and have concocted a master plan to have her swooning by the end of the evening. Silk pinstripe shirt, check. Perfectly ironed slacks, done. Enough cologne to suffocate an entire pueblo, yeah baby. Bring it on! Looking at yourself in the mirror, giving that sly wink followed by […]

Guest Houses: The Perfect Accommodation in Spain and Portugal!

Despite the address on our mail, our soles rarely touch Barcelona soil. Have a conversation with us in Spanish, or Catalan, and you’re quick to learn that we’re not from around these parts. Instead, we can be found in any given wine region, around the world, often per the request of a client or new event. The byproduct of this dreamy little adventure is that we’ve become “experts” in choosing accommodations. If you’re a frequent traveler, you’ve unexpectedly become very well versed in describing poorly designed shower fixtures, overly designed bedding complete with 5,000 pillows and scant outlet availability for the tech-obsessed among us (tip: bring a power strip). Consequently, on the rare occasion that I can choose my lodgings, […]

Politics, Practicality and Pomp: The Battle Over the Future of Spanish Wine

Editor’s note: All views expressed below are solely that of the author.  All good things must come to an end. And it seems sadly appropriate that, after six years, Catavino – a site that mirrored so well all that was burgeoning and metamorphosing in the Spanish wine world – closes its doors just as the outlook for Spanish wine gets bleaker. Of course, I don’t need a crystal ball or the touch of a soothsayer to tell you that the European Economic Crisis – and Spain’s part in it – will exact its cost from the wine industry here. Perhaps the best that some can hope for is that a depressed Euro or, dare I say, Peseta will encourage export. […]

The Never Ending Journey: 6 Years of Transformation

Not surprisingly, I’ve delayed writing this post for weeks, dutifully trying to answer the question, “what happened over the past 6 years and how does one summarize such an experience in one article?” Admittedly, it’s absolutely impossible. To write a one off post on how our lives have changed feels as inconsequential as writing a paragraph on the death of reason. Well, then again, if you merged both topics, you just might have something! If someone asked me 7 years ago if I would be prepared to live hand to mouth for half a decade in order to write about Iberian wine, in a country I had never been, speaking a language I had never uttered, to meet people from […]