Geography, One Glass at a Time

Left to right: Front row: Rupa Mathur, Bernadette Fideli, Susan Parker; middle row: Penny Fox, Jere Bone, Kathy Perry, Al Wright, Vivian Wright, Beverlee Deardorff; back row: Doug Fox, Darwin Slaughter (photo by Bernadette Fideli)

Geography is the study of places and the relationships between people and their environments. Geographers explore both the physical properties of Earth’s surface and the human societies spread across it. They also examine how human culture interacts with the natural environment and the way that locations and places can have an impact on people. What better way to study the Iberian Peninsula and its countries of Spain and Portugal than through their wines and foods?

David and Susan Parker treated the Wine Stewards to a “Wine Tour of Spain and Portugal.” Four wines were featured, along with a specialized tapas menu. Caiu a Noite Vinho Verde from Portugal is a balanced white wine with fresh flavors of apple, pear, and flowers. It was served with open-faced crab empanadas. The three red wines were accompanied with the following tapas: champinones al ajillo con chorize, goat cheese and caramelized onion pintxo, and a charcuterie board with Spanish meats, cheeses, and olives. Quinta das Carvalhas Red Blend from Douro, Portugal, is a very fresh, fruit-forward wine. On the palate, there are vanilla notes, ending in a slightly spicy but nice finish. San Gregorio El Gardo Garnacha from Calatayud, Spain, has notes of plums, wild raspberries, grilled mushrooms, sage, and spices. It is full-bodied with fine-grained tannins. It is plush, textured, and fragrant. San Gregorio El Vergal Tempranillo from Aragon, Calatayud, Spain, has notes of plums and grapes with hints of vanilla, following through to a medium body, fresh fruit, and a bright finish. What better way to end an edible geography lesson than with a liquid history lesson?

The evening ended with a glass of Quinta das Carvalhas Late Bottled Vintage Porto from Douro, Portugal. More complex than a Tawny or Ruby port, this late bottled vintage is a deep ruby color, with plumy shades of purple and a complex nose of black cherries, dark chocolate, and vanilla. It has 20% alcohol. Port wine, also known as vinho de Porto, is a Portuguese fortified wine produced in the Douro Valley of Northern Portugal. Other port-style fortified wines are produced outside Portugal, but under the European Union Protected Designation of Origin guidelines, only wines from Portugal are allowed to be labeled “port.” Who knew geography could be so enjoyable?!