When we started Catavino.net, we knew that our desire to explore would never relegate us to one region entirely, as we have always loved to discover new cultures through their wines. Having fallen in love with Portugal, during our first visit in 2003, we knew that limiting ourselves to Spain was both illogical and short-sighted. Hence we created an “Iberian Wine” website, a term few people were familiar with or fully comprehended, prior to Catavino’s creation.
I remember the first time I used the term “Iberian wines” in a tasting among a group of Spaniards who stared at me blankly and said, “We have Iberian ham, but there is no such thing as an Iberian wine.” Ponder that for a moment.
Soon thereafter, friends and family expressed a deep desire to share our journey with us. The most obvious solution, other than booking a ticket to Spain, was to seek out the wines we were drinking in order to contribute to the conversation. However, this resulted in another hard truth rearing its ugly head: people don’t know what Iberia is! This was perfectly exemplified when a friend had walked into a wine shop in Saint Paul, MN, that specializes in “Spanish and Portuguese Wines”, and ask if they had any fun wines from Iberia. The sales clerk responded that “no, they didn’t carry any Iberian wines”. Granted, I can’t say I blame her. Unless you’ve read Michener you might now know about Iberia either. If you want to know more about the origin and history of the “Iberian peninsula” then I highly suggest reading the Wikipedia entry on Iberia. Very interesting.
Iberian wine is a valid category. Iberian wine encompasses a unique set of characteristics that when viewed as a whole, makes more sense than when viewed as Spain and Portugal. Take these points:
Why does it matter? Truthfully, to the majority of you, it shouldn’t matter, but on a geographical, philosophical, political and marketing level, it’s a conversation worthy of having. Just imagine if both countries worked together to promote their wine as ONE, despite the fact that there is a better chance of pigs flying (after recovering from the flu, of course) before that happens. They could:
I know I’m a foreigner, an expat, someone without the cultural baggage that prevents this idea from becoming a reality, but there is logic to my madness.
I also know that I’m not going to convince Portugal or Spain to adopt this idea, but I would be interested in wine lovers, and educators, to consider the idea when talking about the wines of Iberia. Think about it, and let us know what you think.