Wine&History: Garum

Garum wine comes from Bodegas Luis Perez located in Jerez de la Frontera, in the Sherry area. The first time I tried it was in Artefacto Bar in the Alameda promenade of Seville, where they have a high variety of different wines and craft beers and they also serve tapas. This bar caught my attention because they have more than ribera and rioja red wines. Sadly, here in Seville it is easier to drink a wine from thousands km away than a wine from closer Andalusian towns. Garum is normally the best alternative, as I think that nowadays it is one of the best known red wines from Andalusia. It is an intense garnet color and also very intense nose, but in the mouth is silky and it has a very soft sweet flavour.

And what is garum? Maybe these meal does not result so delicious as the wine, but it was a delicacy in the Roman Empire. Garum was a fermented fish sauce produced by crushing the innards of fatty fishes like anchovies, sardines, mackerel or tuna and then fermenting in brine. The history of the coastal city Baelo Claudia in the Strait of Gibraltar (Cadiz) is totally connected with the production of garum. Moreover, there is no other archaeological site in the Iberian Peninsula that affords such a complete vision of the urban life of a roman city.

In the reconstruction we can see the main avenue (Decumano maximo), a central forum and next to it the basilica and a theater. Out of the urban area there was a necropolis and of course an aqueduct. The neighborhood of salting, where the garum was manufactured, was almost in the coastal line. The main fish in Baelo Claudia was tuna, as this specie cross the Strait of Gibraltar to spawn in the Mediterranean sea.

I have been to Baelo Claudia twice when I was studying in the University, almost ten years ago (OMG), and apart from the ruins of Baelo Claudia what I like so much is the dune of Bolonia, an enormous big amount of sand very difficult to walk on, but the views from the top are gorgeous. Bolonia is a non urbanized beach and in a sunny winter day, the sound of the sea, the brilliant white, green and blue colors and the smell of the salt make me feel alive and peaceful.

So that is what garum wine reminds me of: the coast and its atmosphere, the sea, and of course Cadiz, always Cadiz. Curiously, this winery also presented in 2013 a red wine aged in amphoras under the sea: Submarine Garum. Like the garum was transported in amphoras from Baelo Claudia to the rest of Hispania, now the wine goes from the barrels to the sea inside similar roman bottles.

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