Wining in the South of Spain

Everything in Córdoba's histocal center is within easy walking distance, meaning that: a) it's pretty much impossible to get truly lost, but that b) you can cover all the points of interest in a day - maybe a day and a half if you do as the locals do and partake in the afternoon siesta. Faced with the prospect of spending my last full day tromping around the same old streets, lovely as they are, I decided I'd be better off heading somewhere else. My hostel highlighted several possible daytrips, but naturally I chose the one labeled "wine tasting."

Nearby Montilla, just an hour's bus ride away, is the sort of place that a Google search does not yield satisfactory step-by-step instructions of how to get there and lengthy discussions of what to do once you've arrived; where even while walking on one of the main streets, in breaks between buildings you catch glimpses of rolling hills of vineyards that supply all the wineries (or bodegas, as they're called here); where when you enter said bodega, the lady in the tienda will ask you if you speak English, shortly followed by, "Sorry, tours are only in Spanish." (I think it goes without saying that, additionally, in this sort of setting you can wander about as you please feeling reasonably sure that you are the only colored person within city limits. I did meet a friendly South African couple during the tasting, but they were white). 

With seven years' worth of Spanish buried beneath French, tucked away in the crevices of my brain alongside trig and mitosis and all those other things you learn in school but almost never use in real life, I wasn't too worried about the tour not being in English. Not so much because they taught us about wine in AP Spanish, but, I mean, once you've toured one winery you've pretty much toured them all. The process remains essentially the same and the only thing that's different is the tasting. Or so I thought when I purchased my ticket at the Bodega Alvear.

But, as it turned out, they do things a little differently in the south of Spain. Whereas at most of the other wineries I've been to - in Napa Valley, Portugal and France - wines are differentiated by the type of grape they contain. Here? They can make 5 wildly different wines using just one: the white Pedro Ximénez variety. I don't know how this feat is accomplished; it was all in Spanish.

If you go: Pick your bodega wisely, as by the time you finish the tour and tasting, everything shuts down for the siesta and, unlike most other businesses, the bodegas won't reopen later. Maybe this is just a summer thing because July is low season; I'm not sure because Google wouldn't tell me.