I am often asked what I think about Canarian wines – oh boy are they asking the wrong person. I am sadly allergic to alcohol in any shape or form. This wasn´t always the case I used to enjoy a nice G&T and always had wine with a meal but then in the late 1990s I was having a glass of wine and quite suddenly started to feel as if I was coming down with a very bad cold. After a few hours all the symptoms had gone. I had another glass with the next meal and again almost as soon as I started drinking my eyes began to water, my nose was running and neither would stop. It took me several months and many glasses of gin and/or wine to realise that it was the alcohol having this effect so I finally gave in and stopped. Every once in a while I will try again and whoever we are with look on in total amazement as I sit at the table and appear to sniffle and cry over my meal – so its just not worth it!
But getting back to the point, I have no opinions on Canarian wine having rarely tasted it, so have nothing to base an opinion on. There is also so many to choose – from the cheap but I am told very drinkable plonk at around €2 or even less a bottle, to the kind a connoisseur of fine wines would be proud to own. I have been led to believe that Tenerife wine in particular is very good and recently I have noticed that a new kind of trip Enotourism or Vinitourism is becoming popular, which is hardly surprising as the Canary Islands have a long history of wine making. A while ago I added a Wine Tour to my blog which perhaps led people to believe I knew a lot more about the subject than I really do. So in order to rectify that misconception I thought I would do a little digging.
Wine production in the Canaries began in the 15th and 16th centuries probably when the Spanish conquered the islands and along with the crops they brought from the mainland, they also brought vine cuttings and found these did well in the volcanic soil, particularly Malvasia. By the 17th century the export of wine was doing well however the English merchants had a stranglehold on prices and shipments from Garachico, the main wine exportation port of Tenerife. In retaliation local wine producers broke into the warehouses, smashed the barrels and wine flooded the streets, this became known as the ‘Wine Rebellion’ in 1666 and a statue can still be found on the outskirts of Garachico.
In the 1800′s mildew wreaked havoc on the vines and production shrank into relative obscurity until the 1990s when government subsidies and growers banding together in co-operatives and the ever increasing quality finally gained recognition. In 1992 the first DO (Denominación de Origen) recognition of the quality and status by the Spanish mainland was granted and from the 10 DOs held by the Canary Islands, Tenerife holds 5 of these.
If you like your wine you can go on one of the tours mentioned above or do your own thing. One of the larger producers, Bodegas Monje in El Sauzal have various different events. Currently what they offer is on this link and prices are mostly for two people.
In the basic tour you will learn about the vines and how they are harvested by hand. See barrels where fermenting took place almost 100 years ago and then see how it is done today in modern steel vats. Watch a video showing the full yearly cycle of producing wine and taste at least 3 different varieties. There is a shop where you can buy your favourites or other Canarian produce all in all for the wine lover a highly recommended trip. However to get the best from your visit it is advisable to contact the Bodega to make sure they have a guide that speaks your language.