Why Do the Spanish Soak Themselves in Wine?

Last week, we discussed how Spain is now the world’s top exporter of wine. This led us to ask, why do the Spanish also soak themselves in it?

Tale as old as time

Ever since the age of antiquity, people have been making wine. The practise was so popular we know that the ancient Greeks did it, the ancient Romans did it and even the ancient Israelites did it; it’s mentioned in the Bible!

When a practise has been around for as long as wine-making has, people start to develop cultural traditions around it. There were numerous festivals, carnivals and events devoted to our favourite tipple throughout the ancient and medieval worlds. Some have even survived into the modern day; remember when we reported on the northern Greek town of Noussa’s wine festival? The locals fill a fountain with 32 tonnes of dry red wine every year!

Battalla de Vino

Well, now we’ve just discovered another historic wine festival that’s survived through to the modern day. This is the ‘Battalla de Vino;’ a wine festival that takes place in the Spanish wine-making town of Haro, La Rioja every year to honour Saint Peter.

The Independent reported that this event sees the citizens of the town honour the first Bishop of Rome, by pouring litres and litres and litres of wine all over each other. Every Saint Peter’s Feast Day, the locals gather at the nearby Bilbio Mountain and fight with wine; using water pistols, soaked sponges and even buckets to douse themselves in our favourite tipple!

Legend has it that the practise developed after centuries of increasingly wild feasts at the site to honour the Saint’s feast day. Meanwhile, other people say that the tradition came into being in the aftermath of a dispute with a neighbouring town that resulted in a nasty wine fight!  Either way, it sounds like a blast, but we’ve got to wonder; how does this town have any wine to spare, Spain just became the largest wine exporter in the world.

Drink fine wine

The Battalo de Vino sounds like a fun, but we think we’ll stick to drinking our fine wine thanks. You don’t quite get the same experience drinking a Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1978, if someone pours a bucket of the rare Bordeaux over your head!


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