I was full, not an unusual feeling in the Costa Brava. Our hosts had once again plied us with copious amounts of wine and scrumptious food and I felt like it was time for a nap. But that was not to be; instead we were about to participate in a cooking lesson and porron drinking contest. First though I had to figure out what exactly a porro was and how to win.
A porron is a traditional Catalan glass wine pitcher and is truly a national symbol of Spain. It resembles a cross between a wine bottle and watering can; the top is narrow and ends in a spout. It’s shaped this way so that the wine will have minimal contact with the air, which quickly ruins it. This unique vessel originated in the middle ages and was used when there weren’t enough glasses for the guests. Because, you see, this strange little glass tankard is meant to enjoy wine without your lips touching the bottle in any way.
I wasn’t sure what to make of the odd serving vessel when I first saw it, and was completely taken aback when someone lifted it up and poured the red liquid into their gullets. The trick, it seemed, was to hold the porron far enough away so that wine doesn’t cover one’s chest but close enough so that, you know, you can drink it.
According to the professionals, the proper way to drink from a porron is as follows:
The beginner starts by bringing the spout very close to his mouth and tilts it forward slowly so that the beak points towards the teeth. Once the liquid starts coming out, the porron is pulled away from the face while the drinker looks up. To finish drinking, a beginner lowers the porron and brings it back down and closer to the mouth again before stopping, quickly tilting the spout up at the last moment so there is no spillage.
The practice was a lot different, but I was proud when I managed to drink using this traditional method and not (almost) spill a drop of wine. More than anything else, after trying this strange custom I felt like I was a part of the community; a priceless feeling whenever you travel.
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