Rioja Wine & Coke – the official drink of San Fermin
While San Fermin officially begins at noon on the 6th of July the festival of San Fermin lasts until the 14th of July. Originally the holiday was celebrated in October, but due to crummy weather in the Basque region of Spain the holiday was moved to July to coincide with more beautiful weather. Popularized in the 20th century by Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, the Running of the Bulls is now a bit of a tourist trap. But, the Spanish are there in droves to celebrate in one of the funnest ways I’ve ever had the chance to experience. To kick off the San Fermin holiday there’s a large (I mean large) gathering in the main square of Pamplona, Spain where everyone is celebrating, cheering, and drinking. After a speech by the local head of state in Pamplona a large fireworks celebration is set off and then the food fight gets underway.
Yes, food fight. San Fermin is begun with a giant town wide food fight. There are parties in every bar and there’s even an unofficial competition to see who can climb a statue in the center of town and crowd surf their way to safety. The trick is actually climbing the statue. Local officials know that this is an age-old, drunkard tradition so in the last decade or so they’ve begun to grease up the statue in order to deter people from climbing it. This, however, backfired and just makes everything that much more fun. Aside from the food fighting, dancing, and crowd surfing there’s a lot of drinking. When I went to San Sebastian right before San Fermin I was inroduced to a fantastic concoction called Kalimotxos (KAL-ee-MOCH-os) which is made of Coca Cola and Rioja wine. When I first heard about it I was disgusted, but being open-minded I tried it. If you like Cherry Coca Cola, you’ll like Kalimotxos. And plus, it’s super simple to make.
- 1 part Rioja wine
- 1 part Coca Cola (or Coke Zero)
Fill a tumbler glass or highball glass full of ice. Seriously, fill it up like ice is going out of style. Then add half a glass of the Rioja wine. Then fill with the Coca Cola.
Some people will claim that you can make this with Pepsi, but I really think it tastes different. It’s authentically a Coca Cola (or Spanish version of Coke) that makes this drink weirdly delicious.
People who might like Kalimotxos:
- Wine spritzer enthusiasts
- Cherry Coke lovers
- Spanish decendents
Kalimotxos tastes a lot like a non-alcoholic beverage and because of that it tends to go down pretty easy. I highly recommend you make this in a pitcher size to serve at a party or else you might end up drinking a bottle of red wine without even recognizing it.
Note: If you ever get the chance to go and witness the opening ceremonies of San Fermin, I highly recommend that you do. However, if you don’t want to run with the bulls, go get a great seat in the stadium where everyone ends up. That way you get a really good view at all the bulls tossing those idiots around.
Double Note: The 1985 bottle of Rioja was not harmed in the making of this drink. Don’t waste a great vintage on something like Kalimotxos. A cheap red wine will do just as good as a bottle of Rioja in a pinch.