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A Brief History of Wine in Spain

  • Stefan K. Estreicher (a1)

This paper describes the evolution of wine in Spain from Phoenician times to the present, within a historical context. Each of the six main sections deserves more careful analysis, but the broad overview given here could be of interest to the curious (and thirsty) reader.

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1.McGovern P.E., Glusker D.L., Exsner L.J. and Voigt M.M. (1996) Neolithic resinated wine. Nature, 381, pp. 480481.
2.Ramishvili R. (1983) New material on the history of viniculture in Georgia. History, Archeology, Ethnology, and Art History. Ser. 2, pp. 125140.
3.Leonard A. Jr. (2000) The Origins and Ancient History of Wine, edited by P.E. McGovern, S.J. Fleming and S.H. Katz (Amsterdam: Gordon and Breach).
4.Barnard H., Dooley A.N., Areshian G., Gasparyan B. and Faull K.F. (2010) Chemical evidence for wine production around 4000 BCE in the late Chalcolithic near Eastern Highlands. Journal of Archeological Science, 38, p. 977.
5.Caven B. (1992) The Punic Wars (New York: Marboro Books).
6.I. Bourdial (ed.) (2008) Cahiers de Science et Vie (French) 104, May.
7. The often quoted 1100BC appears to originate from either Velleius (c. 19BC–AD31) Compendium of Roman History or Strabo (c. 64BC–AD24) Geographica. These documents were written about one thousand years after the fact.
8. The soccer club of Barcelona is also called Barça.
9.Fleming S.J. (2001) Vinum (Glenn Mills: Art Flair)
10. Strabo, Geographica, vol. III, chapter 4.
11. Ovid, Ars Amatoria, book III.
12.Bury J.B. (2000) The Invasion of Europe by the Barbarians (New York: Norton).
13.Jones T. (2006) Barbarians (Reading: Ebury).
14. Leander, brother of Isidore of Seville, presides over this conversion. See Wolff P. (1971) Western Languages AD500–1500 (London: Phoenix).
15.Rosen W. (2007) Justinian's Flea (London: Viking).
16.Glubb J. (1988) A Short History of the Arab People (New York: Dorset).
17.Kennedy H. (2007) The Great Arab Conquests (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson).
18.Geo Histoire (2011) L’Épopée de l'Islam (French, special issue Mai-June).
19.M. Chebel in Geo Histoire (2011) L’Épopée de l'Islam, (French, special issue Mai-June), p. 52.
20.Kadri S. (2012) Heaven on Earth (New York: Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux).
21. From West to East, they are León, Castile, Navarre, Aragon, and Barcelona. The latter two merge in 1137.
22.The drama of Raquel, the Jewess of Toledo (Die Jüdin von Toledo by Lion Feuchtwanger) describes the religious and political conflicts of the time. It is based on Alfonso the Wise's Cronica General (1284) describing Alfonso VIII's life.
23. The Almohads are themselves overtaken by the Benemerins. They support Granada in the 13th and 14th centuries.
24. The details of the Reconquista are not directly related to the story of wine but are fascinating. See for example the historical novel Saramango J. (1996) The History of the Siege of Lisbon, translated by G. Pontiero (London: The Harvill Press).
25. Not everything is black and white and examples of strange alliances abound. For example, Sancho VIII of Navarre campaigns in North Africa from 1198 to 1200 with the Almohads against the interests of Castile.
26.Ziegler P. (1991) The Black Death (Dover, NH: Alan Sutton).
27.S. Barry and N. Gualde (2006) La plus grande épidémie de l'histoire. L'Histoire (French) 310, p. 47
28.Fagan B. (2000) The Little Ice Age (New York: Basic Books).
29.Bown S.R. (2012) 1494 (New York: Thomas Dunne Books).
30. The union of Ferdinand and Isabel is formally approved by Pope Sixtus IV's legate, Rodrigo Borgia, soon to become himself Pope, as Alexander VI. See Mallett M. (1987) The Borgias (Chicago: Academy).
31.Green T. (2007) Inquisition, the Reign of Fear (New York: St Martin's Press).
32.Murphy C. (2012) God's Jury (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).
33. The fall of Granada and other key events of the late 15th century are told by Fernández-Armesto F. (2009) 1492, the Year the World Began (New York: Harper One).
34.Leif Ericson establishes a Viking settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows (Newfoundland) in the year 1000. There is indirect evidence that Basque are fishing large amounts of cod off of North America in the early Middle Ages – M. Kurlanski (1999) The Basque History of the World (New York: Penguin). Further, it is very likely that the Portuguese have a presence in South America before Columbus – see, for example, M. Page (2002) The First Global Village (Cruz Quebrada: Casa das Letras). However, it is Columbus who opens the door to the Conquistadores and the trans-Atlantic trade.
35.Pickthall M.M. (trans.) (1999) The Glorious Qur'an (Elmhurst: Tahrike Tarsile Qur'an).
36. A well-known example is the Rubáiyát of the Persian Omar Khayyám.
37.Leroux-Dhuys J.F. and Gaud H. (1988) Cistercian Abbey: History and Architecture (Cologne: Könemann).
38.Al-Hassani S., Woodcock E. and Saoud R. (Eds) (2007) 1001 Inventions: Muslim Heritage in Our World (Manchester: FSTC).
39.Sir Alexander Fleming (1881–1955) discovers penicillin in 1928. It is first mass-produced during the Second World War.
40.Jeffs J. (2004) Sherry (London: Octopus).
41. She goes down in history as Juana La Loca, Cazy Juana. She ends up confined to a nunnery or imprisoned in a castle for many years either by her husband, father, or son, all of whom have designs on her wealth and crown.
42.Hessler J.W. (2008) The Naming of America: Martin Waldseemüller's 1507 World Map and the Cosmographiae Introductio (London: Giles).
43. Another mystery is in Waldseemüller's 1516 Carta Marina, which shows none of the west coast of the Americas and includes the strange apology: ‘We will seem to you reader, to have diligently presented and shown a representation of the world previously [his 1507 map], which was filled with error, wonder and confusion. […] Our previous presentation pleased very few people, as we have lately come to understand.’
44.D. Keys (2010) Slavery's forgotten doomsday. BBC History Magazine. February, p. 12.
45.Eltis D. and Richardson D. (2010) Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade (New Haven: Yale University Press).
46. These ‘United Provinces’ – today's Netherlands – achieve independence at the treaty of Westphalia (Münster), in 1648.
47.Jan de Blij H. (1985) Wine Regions of the Southern Hemisphere (New Jersey: Rowman & Allanheld).
48.Latham R. and Matthews W. (Eds) (2000) The Diary of Samuel Pepys (Harper Collins: University of California Berkeley Press), written from 1660 to 1670, includes numerous references to such wines. Ben Jonson (1573–1673) also writes: ‘But that which most doth take my muse and me, Is a pure cup of rich Canary wine, Which is the mermaid's now, But shall be mine.’ Shakespeare also refers to Canary wine, for example in Twelfth Night (1.3.74) and The Merry Wives of Windsor (3.2.83).
49.Phillips R. (2002) A Short History of Wine (New York: Ecco).
50. The English take Menorca for a century. Their influence is still present in the local Catalan, such as vindua (window) instead of finestra.
51.Shrady N. (2008) The Last Day (New York: Viking).
52.The full title is a bit long by today's standards: Relação abbreviada da Republica que os religiosos jesuitas das provincias de Portugal, e Hespanha estabelecerão nos Domínios ultramarinos das duas monarchias, e da guerra que nelles tem movido, e sustentado contra os exercitos Hespanhoes, e Portugueses; formado pelos registos das Secretarias dos dous respectivos principes commissarios, e Plenipotenciarios; e por outros Documentos authenticos (1757). The document is translated into several languages, including Latin, and compels Pope Benedict XIV to open an official investigation into the behaviour of the Jesuits in Paraguay (many thanks to Alexandra Carvalho for finding a copy of this pamphlet).
53. The Jesuits are expelled from 34 countries. Pope Clement XIV abolishes the Society of Jesus in 1773 (Dominus ac Redemptor). It is restored by Pope Pius VII in 1814 (Sollicitudo Omnium Ecclesiarum), near the end of the Napoleonic era.
54.Yenne B. (2004) The Missions of California (San Diego: Thunder Bay).
55. The last victim of the Spanish Inquisition is the schoolmaster Cayetano Ripoli. He is garrotted in Valencia in 1826 for teaching Deist principles. This is not that long ago… The Spanish Inquisition is finally abolished in 1834 by a Royal Decree of Regent Maria Christina, Ferdinand VII's widow.
56. The sherry barrels are only filled to 5/6 capacity because the flor needs some air to survive.
57.In Book II, Chapter XVII of (1592) Histoire de la République des Séquanes et des Princes de Franche-Comté de Bourgogne (France: Dôle), Louis Gollut (1535–1595) writes that specific yeasts develop on the surface of wines kept for 6 to 7 years in thick oak barrels: ‘… entreposé dans des futs de chêne épais… repos complet de 6 à 7 ans … se developpe à la surface des levures spécifiques…’.
58. Isabel's husband, Francisco de Asís, is impotent. The father is probably a hussar of the guard.
59.Payne S.G. (2006) The Collapse of the Spanish Republic 1933–1936 (New Haven: Yale University Press).
60.Paz A. (1997) The Spanish Civil War (Paris: Hazan).
61.Beevor A. (2001) The Spanish Civil War (New York: Penguin).
62.M. Cardona (2008) Science and Dictatorship (lecture delivered in Pavia).
63.Phylloxera is first described in A. Fitch (1856) First and Second Report on the Noxious, Beneficial and Other Insects of the State of New York (Albany: C. Van Benthuysen, Printer to the Legislature).
64. J. Bombín Val, Legaris, private communication.
65. Spanish Ministry of Agriculture; see also Jeffs J. (2004) Sherry (London: Octopus).
66. The malolactic fermentation is bacteria-induced. It is the transformation of malic into lactic acid, which softens and stabilizes the wine. If the malolactic fermentation is stopped, the white wine gains a fresh and crisp flavour and should be consumed young. The word ‘malic’ comes from the Latin malum, the apple, as it is the acid that gives green apples their distinctive crispness. Malum also means ‘evil’ in Latin (mal in French), probably because of Adam and Eve's famous apple incident.
67. It is slightly cooler in Sanlúcar (on the coast) than in Jerez (farther inland). As a result, the Palomino grape produces about 1 degree less sugar (1% less alcohol in the young wine) near Sanlúcar than near Jerez. Further, in Jerez, the flor diminishes substantially in the summer and winter months. It flourishes all year long in Sanlúcar.
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