Thursday, January 17, 2008

¡Viva! España y México

This weekend's winter destinations are both Spanish speaking countries, the first uses Castilian Spanish and in the second, your high school or college language skills will suffice.

Spain is known for quality reds from Rioja and Ribera del Duero, reds and whites from Penedés, fine whites from Rueda, "sherries" from Jerez, and a fine sparkling wine known as cava.

But our charter flight is headed to Mexico. You may think they just produce beer and tequila, but in 1542 it was decreed that all land owners plant one thousand vines per hundred workers. This measure resulted in 5,000 grape vines, which formed the basis of South America's first wine production.

In the State of Baja California, the growing of vine followed their installation of the missioners. They transformed the local deserts in agricultural zones and vineyards. The second generation of fathers went to California. Their leader, brother Junipero Serra established 21 missions from San Diego to Sonoma, where they grew "mission grapes" or the variety known as criolla.

The wine that was produced was often mixed with fruits and honey. Remember all that leftover fruit from making the aroma kits? Our club will enjoy the following wine-based beverage with chips and seven layer dip.

Traditional Sangria
1 1/2 cups rum
1/2 cup white sugar
1 thinly sliced orange
1 thinly sliced lemon
1 thinly sliced lime
1 bottle dry red wine
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

Mix together the rum and sugar in a large glass pitcher until the sugar dissolved. Add the sliced fruit. Let sit for at least 2 hours and up to 6 hours in the refrigerator. Right before serving, add the red wine and orange juice. Stir well and serve chilled.