From the chilly Pyrenees of the north to the hot, arid south just miles from North Africa, Spain has an exciting array of regional cuisines. Our focus for this tour is the sunny south, where the Moorish influence is most pronounced. The Moors occupied Spain from the 8th to the 15th century, introducing citrus, stone fruit, almonds and saffron to the kitchen. In the early 16th century, Christopher Columbus brought tomato, potato, capsicum, eggplant, chilli and chocolate from the New World, which also embedded themselves into local cooking. Add a vast variety of smallgoods, rich array of cheeses, vibrant green olive oil, abundant fresh herbs, rich red pimentón (Spanish paprika) and the ever-present rustic bread, and you can see why we’re excited about eating in southern Spain. Wine is served at every meal, though a nip of brandy in breakfast coffee is more common to make a carajillos (like Italian caffè corretto). The unique wines of the Marco de Jerez – from classic fortified Sherries to the delicious table wines produced from the same palomino grapes in various styles, plus red wines from indigenous grapes and some fine bubbles – are worthy of a tour in themselves.
Join wine importer Scott Wasley, with his contagious passion for the wines of Jerez, and food writer and Sherry-lover Roberta Muir, for a behind-the-scenes journey into the culinary culture of southern Spain. Visit great food and wine producers, eat regional dishes in local restaurants and enjoy hands-on cooking with like-minded food and wine lovers in a relaxed, comfortable environment.
The below itinerary covers the tour highlights, the order of activities and locations may vary.
We’ll start in Spain's capital, Madrid, a city of elegant boulevards and expansive parkland, with some of Europe’s oldest restaurants and bars. We’ll grab a coffee at Café Gijon, an artists’ haunt frequented by Orson Welles, and visit the vibrant covered San Miguel Market.
We’ll wander the narrow cobbled streets of the charming old town of Jerez de la Frontera to eat in rustic taverns. It's a great town to explore on foot, especially of an evening when everyone is out enjoying a glass of wine, plates of local food and the street musicians.
By day, Jerez (which gave its name to Sherry), is the perfect base for exploring the surrounding towns and vineyards of the Sherry Triangle. We'll visit bodegas and meet with winemakers to better understand their unique wines and taste straight from the barrels.
Jerez is regarded as the birth-place of flamenco – the musical genre associated with the gypsies of southern Spain. We'll spend an evening in an authentic flamenco bar, sipping Sherry, eating tapas and listening to the musicians belt out their heart-wrenching songs.
In Vejer de la Frontera, a gorgeous pueblo blanco (white town) so close to North Africa you can see it on a clear day, we'll have a hands-on cooking experience with the incredibly knowledgeable and passionate Annie B. Then we’ll enjoy our feast on her open rooftop.
Back in Spain we’ll visit Bodega Gutiérrez Colosía in El Puerto de Santa Maria, one of the last family-owned bodegas in the region. We'll meet third generation winemaker Carlota for a lesson in using the traditional veneciana to pour wine from the barrel.
The coastal micro-climate in Sanlúcar de Barrameda, our final base on this trip, produces unique flavours in Manzanilla, the elegant Sherries aged here. Sanlúcar is also where we'll find some of Spain's finest seafood, which pairs beautifully with these wines.
Our immersion into the food and wine of southern Spain ends in Córdoba where we'll see magnificent Moorish architecture and dine with the chef Scott considers the master of two of Spain's most iconic dishes: sopa de ajo and arroz caldoso.
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With a sunny climate, spectacular scenery, impressive Moorish architecture and history, superb food and unique wines – there’s much to discover and love about southern Spain.
Seafood, including prawns, crab, squid and fish are a big part of the southern Spanish diet. Gazpacho (cold tomato soup) and pescaíto frito (fried seafood) are two of the most popular dishes and desserts show a strong Moorish influence featuring nuts, dried fruits and honey.
Southern Spain is home to Sherry (named as an Anglicisation of the town of Jerez), a fortified white wine that is produced in many styles, from bone dry to superbly sweet. These wines marry beautifully with the local Mediterranean cuisine. On a tour of southern Spain you can visit Sherry bodegas, rustic local restaurants and artisanal producers of regional smallgoods and cheeses.
Despite being best known by many for its football club, Madrid in southern Spain is a city of elegant boulevards and expansive parkland with some of Europe’s oldest restaurants and bars and superb art collections.
The Jerez wine region in Andalusia, southern Spain, is a triangular area with the towns of Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, and El Puerto de Santa María at its points (‘The Sherry Triangle’). The Jerez wine region produces one of the world’s most famous fortified wines, Sherry.
Sherry, a wine produced in the Jerez wine region (called The Sherry Triangle), is one of the world’s most famous fortified wines, though traditionally and again since recent changes to the appellation rules, it can also be made from wine that has reached the requisite strength without fortification. Southern Spain is also home to delicious table wines made from the same palomino grapes used to make traditional Sherry.