Inside Spanish Wine Week Ireland – Meet the People who Make it Happen
The Spanish Wine Week in Ireland has become one of the most highly anticipated events in the calendar of local oenophiles. This year the celebration of vino will run from the 23rd to the 29th of April and it’ll be the event’s third edition. The occasion is perfect to visit and revisit some of your favourite wines from Spain, but also, it’s a brilliant opportunity to discover new regions, varieties and style from such a versatile and diverse winemaking culture.
Sara Crespo, Marketing Director at the Spanish Economic and Commercial Office in Ireland, is the woman who leads the way to organise the Spanish Wine Week in Ireland. She explains that when it first launched, back in 2016, the idea was to host a series of events to promote Spanish wines, adding that “more than one a half million Irish tourists visit Spain every year and we felt there was a fantastic opportunity to educate an already interested consumer group.”
She celebrates that “this year there has been a growth in the amount of members from the trade getting involved in various events” (you can see some of the events planned here). Regarding the backstage effort to put everything together, she explains that they organise all the events and promotions in collaboration with Irish importers, many wineries, wine critics, retailers, media and some of the best wine bars and restaurants in the country.
Their passion about Spanish wines and support is key for us to organise Spanish Wine Week.
The topics and wines for the various events are decided along with the venues and the Spanish Commercial Office provides support to those who participate, for example, they give “materials to the independent wine shops for decoration during the week and work on a social media campaign during the week and on the lead up to create a buzz and build atmosphere among consumers.”
The most rewarding part is seeing how Irish consumers are more and more interested in Spanish wines and how they discover regions.”
Sara points out that denominations such as Rias Baixas, Cava, Ribera del Duero, Navarra, Madrid, Bierzo, Jerez and Canary Islands greatly benefit from the spotlight enjoyed during the week.
Regarding the main challenge of putting the week together, Sara mentions “organising the individual events and the logistics involved with the participants and the wineries”, however, it’s all worth it: “Last year all the events were sold out and there is no more gratification than that – to see the love the Irish have for Spain and our wines. We are committed to continuing to expand Spanish Wine Week over the coming years.”
But while a proactive organiser is crucial, the Spanish Wine Week in Ireland can only be such a hit thanks to the enthusiasm and participation of the different distributors, restaurateurs, retailers and other members of the food and drinks scene who embrace the week.
Vanessa Murphy, co-owner of the very popular Las Tapas de Lola, is always eager to take part in the week. “As a Spanish restaurant, all our wines are Spanish. So Spanish Wine Week is a great time for us to reinforce some of the fantastic wines coming from Spain and their great pairings with tapas.”
For this year, she hopes to continue exploring people’s gustatory memories: “So many of our customers have travelled around Spain, so we love to recommend wines and tapas pairings that can recreate their travels”, she adds that inviting wine lovers to try bottles from different varieties and regions is something she loves to do.
One of the most important things about the Spanish Wine Week for Vanessa is that it’s an “opportunity to raise awareness of Spanish wines, as there are so many fantastic grape varieties coming out of Spain that wouldn’t be so well known in Ireland, for example the Mencia or White Garnacha grapes. But even the regions. A lot of people request a Rioja, but when asked white or red? it’s a surprise for many.”
Regarding what trends in Spanish wine she is fond of, sherry shines. “We love sherry. We Irish still have a ‘that’s my grandmother’s favourite tipple’ view of Sherry; but a delicious glass of chilled Manzanilla with toasted almonds and a plate of jamón Ibérico is a match made in heaven.”
For Laura Martín, arts officer at the Instituto Cervantes in Dublin, the Spanish Wine Week takes a cultural dimension. They host one of the week’s most popular events, a Flamenco, Fino and Ibérico evening, which on the 25th of April with offer a quintessentially Spanish experience.
At Instituto Cervantes Dublin we would like to highlight the wealth and diversity of the Spanish culture that can be experience through our gastronomy and dances.”
On the night, flamenco dancer Sandra Palomar and Instituto Cervantes Dublin’s flamenco group will present a colourful, followed by the opportunity to taste delicious Iberian ham accompanied by glass of Sherry wine while Sherry expert Paddy Murphy shares some insights to this variety.
I value the SWW for its variety of activities. It offers a unique opportunity in Ireland to enjoy Spanish food, wine and culture adding some knowledge in a fun way.”
When asked about what aspect of Spanish enogastronomic culture she finds the most fascinating, Laura points out the joy of “finding hidden gems in small towns or villages in the middle of nowhere.” She also mentions the creativity of Spanish chefs, and the way they create new and exciting dishes using local and traditional products.
Another habitué of the Spanish Wine Week in Ireland is Rafael Salazar, co-founder of Vinostito, a wine distributor that features an eclectic parade of fine wines from Spain. “I contribute with ideas and suggestions to Sara and the rest of the team at the Spanish Commercial Office that they wisely refuse!” he jokes.
He hosts several tastings in different Irish cities during the week and this year won’t be the exception: “so far I am hosting two tastings. On Tuesday 24th of April, I will be at L’Attitude 51 , where we will be comparing Atlantic vs Mediterranean influenced wines and on Wednesday 25th I will be in Green Man Wines where we will be exploring the wines from Galicia and their different sub-regions.”
For me the key thing is that people think of the Spanish wines in their cultural context. Wine is a part of our heritage and goes hand in hand with the Spanish food and the rich variety of its regions.”
Speaking of what’s trending in Spanish wines, he points out how impressed he is by “unfortified wines from the Sherry region by young producers like Ramiro Ibanez, Willy Perez and Primitivo Collantes.” He also believes that “the wines from the Balearic and Canaries Islands will keep emerging and surprising us. Also the time of the reds from Galicia has arrived!”
The Spanish Wine Week in Ireland 2018 will take place between the 23rd to the 29th of April. Organisers, partners and the general public will gather for the thrid time to celebrate the wonders of the wines from Spain.
For more information and to check out the full line up of events, visit spanishwineweek.ie
Gabriela’s passion for writing is only matched by her love for food and wine. Journalist, confectioner and sommelier, she fell in love with Ireland years ago and moved from Venezuela to Dublin in 2014.
Since then, she has written about and worked in the local food scene, and she’s determined to discover and share the different traditions, flavours and places that have led Irish food and drink to fascinate her.