Txakoli is about the performance. It’s not poured into normal wine glasses but instead into tumblers that look like a short pint glass. The bar tender pours it from high up in the air, sometimes from over his head, frothing it up which takes away a bit of the bubbles but leaves a nice spritzy, effervescent aspect. I’m kind of a sceptical traveller and I assumed this was only for all of the tourists (we had showed up in town during the film festival) but was proven wrong on every occasion, seeing as it is just the custom to pour it with a bit of flair. Judging by the price of a glass (hovering around the €1.50 point on average) I can’t begin to imagine the quantities that this one single town must go through in a day.
Eating takes on a new meaning here as well. After spending a couple of years in Italy I thought that Italians knew how to eat (and believe me they do) until I went to San Sebastian. All day, everyday, from sun rise to sun set people were eating. Ice cream, pinxtos, cakes, tortilla, chips, hamburgers, sandwiches, jamon,etc. etc. etc. — no reference to the time of day, the weather or any other external factors, it was really an amazing spectacle. This continued well into the night, ending it seemed around 3am when people finally left and went home. In the mornings, things slumbered to life slowly — bakeries filled up, people drank coffee and had some breakfast, and then BANG back at the eating. Astonishing. And the financial crisis? It seems people there are dealing with it by consuming as much as they possible can.
It brings me around to a point about the wine. Txakoli is not really a wine that is going to change your life — unless you happen to be drinking it in San Sebastian, in a pinxtos bar, with a plate of jamon and tortilla, surrounded by people from around the world on a warm fall evening — that €1.50 glass might just make you forget about where it is you’ve come from and where it is that your headed. The atmosphere that surrounds you when you drink can make all of the difference — drinking txakoli here in London will probably not give you the same effect. When you remove wine from its indigenous origins, from its natural habitat, I think that perhaps we can loose what that wine means, what it represents. For me, txakoli will always represent San Sebastian.