Author Iain Dryden shares with us his love for Spanish wine in this guest article, along with giving pilgrims the opportunity to win a copy of his book, Camino Voices…
When your kidneys refuse to forget the chemicals much of our food is laced with, you get a little fussy about what slides down your throat. Without thinking about it, I had absorbed the common French view of Spanish wines – that they weren’t as refined, as great, as delicious, that they were heavily chemical. However, within a week of moving along El Camino, I was smitten. It almost didn’t matter where I was served a glass of local wine, be it in a roadside cafe, a fine restaurant or a tapas bar, I enjoyed every single glass and furthermore, I didn’t toss and turn all night – a sure sign that they were chemical-light.
In Navarre, or the Basque Country, I hadn’t expected to be enchanted by the whites, having previously enjoyed Chablis and other grand French wines, but every time my fish was accompanied by a local white, delight is the word. In my favourite tapas bar at the end of the square beneath Navarrete’s main church, I sipped local reds from Rioja’s famed slopes and each time my enjoyment encouraged the owners serve a better one. By the end of three days, for my van had broken down, I had run through their stock, two glasses each visit. Van, along El Camino? Walking with crutches, sketching and driving was my way of following my wife at a respectable distance.
Far to the west, in the lost valley of the Bierzo whose wine fields I drew, I discovered more wines made from grapes introduced by the Romans two thousand years ago. They were different, more subtle, but just as good as those further back along The Way. I will never forget the red wine I drank outside a bar in a small Galcian hamlet. It accompanied the best toasted Pardon peppers I have ever had. And in Santiago’s abundant tapas bars the fine food was accompanied by good wines and each time I was transported and each night I slept well. This isn’t the case in France, unless I am careful. And back to France I went with many bottles to surprise my friends.
I didn’t wish to include such thoughts in the book walkers implored I create from of my sketchbooks, for I wanted their voices, not mine, to take readers along El Camino. This collection of over 200 walker’s voices and roughly 100 of my sketches is soon to be raffled on this website. If you wish, you can look inside Camino Voices on my own website, there’s a short video about it too. Here’s the link –