Foods and Wines

El Rocio, a lively pilgrimage in the centre of a wine region

It is widely known that Spain has many religious festivals, especially in Andalusia. Holy Week and Christmas are celebrated in a unique way however there are other Catholic traditions that are less known but which are just as special.

Every region, every town and every small village in Spain has a patron saint whose official day is celebrated with music, food and wine, as is the norm in Spain.

Last Sunday was Whit Sunday and that night is the peak moment for the pilgrimage to visit the Virgin of El Rocio, the patroness of Almonte, a small town in Huelva in the most south-western province of Spain. The pilgrimage goes through villages, natural areas of incredible beauty and partially the outskirts of the Doñana National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Picture: Pix Of Spain

This shrine attracts people from all over Spain and the world, who come a long way dressed with the traditional flamenco dresses on foot, horse-back or in ox-pulled carts. Great crowds gather on Whit Sunday to see her come out of her church, which usually happens around 4 or 5 AM, just before sunrise and only once a year.

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Picture: www.spain.info/en/

Although this is not the most important pilgrimage in Spain, it is the most colorful and lively, since pilgrims make their walk more entertaining making stops on their way to enjoy some music, spontaneous flamenco dancing and refreshing themselves with some wine.

The province of Huelva holds the wine region DO Condado de Huelva and there are three types of traditional wine from the area.

  1. Condado Palido tends to be a light, dry, lightly fortified, style of wine that tastes a bit almondy and bears a strong resemblance to Rueda’s Palido wines.
  2. Condado Viejo offers the old-fashioned, fully oxidised (rancio) style of fortified wine (15-22°) which once used to be made all over Spain. These are amber, intense wines comparable to the best olorosos.
  3.  Young, very fruity white wines are made from the Zalema grape.

For centuries the Condado de Huelva exported wines to England, Holland, Germany, Scandinavia and Russia. These were generally  generoso wines, known as sherry-sack, and, indeed, many were supplied to feed the burgeoning Jerez Solera systems between the 17th and 20th centuries.

For more information about Wines from DO Condado de Huelva, please visit: http://www.winesfromspain.com/icex/cda/controller/pageGen/0,3346,1549487_6763498_6792169_1058_0,00.html?combo2Value=1058

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