THE wine tour started where walkers from zee French side finish the Camino: in Santiago de Compostela.
The capital of Galicia in north-western Spain houses the cathedral, which is the spiritual gathering place of the pilgrims who have walked the Way of St James. The cathedral is the shrine of the apostle St James and dominates this city for both pilgrims and tourists.
The afternoon we arrived was cold and grey. The hotel room smelt of lavender detergent and vomit. We asked for another room but there was none at the inn. So, we went to a wine bar. The spiritual and soul-uplifting experiences promised by this city could wait until we got uplift in another way.
We discussed our quest in the lobby of the hotel and an American woman suggested A Taberna do Bispo as one of the best tapas places she had ever been to: whilst rueing her impertinence, we took up her suggestion, finding the place via Google Maps.
It was crowded and we sat at the bar near the beer dispensers. And we ordered two glasses of whatever the waiter thought fit. My instructions were: red please, not too expensive and typically Spanish. He poured two glasses of Rioja.
And here the need to judge left me like a foreign bride who now has her permanent residence. I didn’t ask to see the label or from which Rioja region it came. I didn’t ask the price (which was in the end entirely reasonable). I just sipped, nodded, gave the waiter a thumbs up and got stuck into a feast chosen from the dishes on display that included jamon Iberico (basically crusty bread and excellent ham), stuffed mushrooms, seafood salad and fried calamari.
Sitting beside me was a burly northern Englishman with curly hair and an amazing appetite. He and his wife were doing a tour of Spain on a motorbike and he was engaging and slightly soused.
“Yuh know, I really like saying some Spanish words, like the grape for the Rioja; you know, you make a long sound: temp a rrrrr nillo.”
This was considered hilarious by me and him, with his wife and my daughter looking perplexed. We took turns in elongating the word and laughing at changing the drawn out rrrrs into a soft growl.
On holiday that terribly engrained idea that you must judge and value everything is more easily let go.
In Canberra, no sooner do I taste a wine these days than I find myself pontificating to see whether or not it is “good” and whether and why I like it.
On holiday sitting at the bar at the Taberna do Bispo, I no longer felt that need. There is a proclivity that requires the beverage to be assessed and scored, evaluated and poked at; it’s the same with food. This often means you hardly have a moment to absorb and appreciate the wine or the food before you are presenting yourself and your friends with a verdict. If this constant judging is not proffered some look at you with the hint that you have failed or worse that you are dim witted or perhaps already inebriated. The suspension of judgement made the start of the holiday memorable.
When I returned to Canberra, I sought out a locally made tempranillo to perhaps evoke that wonderful evening and the light raspberry flavours and easy drinking that I recalled. The shop had a Mount Majura 2016 Tempranillo in stock. But it was $45 and I knew that I had leftovers for dinner waiting for me. How could I not judge that it was better leaving the wine on the shelf?