Culture / Seville
Sanlúcar is the home of Manzanilla but Seville comes in a close second. Seville has historically been Manzanilla’s major market and Manzanilla, Seville’s best-loved wine.
But where did this long-lived love affair begin?
Well, from the same place that many centuries before joined the history of Seville and Sanlúcar de Barrameda: trade on the Guadalquivir River.
The discovery of the New World put Sanlúcar on the map, so to speak. With Magellan’s voyage around the world departing from Sanlúcar, the town became a landmark and helped it reach its maximum economic splendour. Likewise, Seville was competing with Cádiz to be the port of choice for trade between Europe and the West Indies and it was ultimately the river’s outlet to the sea through the town of Sanlúcar that tipped the balance in its favour. Seville became part of the Kingdom of Seville in the Middle Ages and its trade relations with America continued to grow. Sanlúcar was the vital link in the chain between the two continents.
For seafarers of the time, wine was indispensable aboard ship, not only because it was traded as a commodity but because it was part of the sailor’s daily provisions. Wine casks were loaded onto the ships headed for the new world and some of them returned with the same wine, but even better than when it departed. The effect of time and the salty sea breezes lent the wine a special quality, becoming what were known as “round-trip wines” that made it all the way back to Seville, for the pleasure and joy of locals and visitors alike.
As a result, Seville’s population became increasingly fond of Sanlúcar’s wine and as time wore on, the river route continued to supply homes and taverns in Seville with Manzanilla. The wine was loaded onto boats and shipped upriver on the evening’s high tide. There is even written testimony claiming that, from the late 1800s and well into the 20th century, Manzanilla’s presence was such that its aroma pervaded the early morning hours in Seville.
The connection has never been lost and, if anything, has become even stronger over time. In springtime, Seville celebrates its world-renowned April Fair, marking peak season for Manzanilla consumption. Simply setting foot on the fairgrounds sends Seville revelling in the aroma of Manzanilla.
Places to visit
When Seville dons its fanciest fair-going apparel, the aroma of Manzanilla begins to permeate the air. But if you can’t visit Seville during the April Fair, not to worry! You can enjoy Manzanilla in Seville all year round and if accompanied by a good assortment of tapas, all the better!
In a city absolutely brimming with cultural activities, the gastronomic aspect is yet another attraction to take in. The range and variety of choices seem endless and for those who love a good tapa paired with a glass of Manzanilla, a match made in heaven. Find out which tapas Seville is famed for by checking out our list of its most emblematic tapas bars.