The vast majority of ardent wine lovers consider the spillage of wine to be a grave tragedy. We hate to see vino slip and drip onto dining room tables, carpets or brand new dress shirts where it can no longer be tasted by eager buds.
It’s true that stains suck as much as stubbing your toe while running for a roll of paper towels, but the real sadness comes from the fact that wine (something created with love and passion) has been wasted.
This is the case everywhere in the world, except for a small town called Haro.
Haro is located in La Rioja, Spain’s best known winemaking region. This is the land of world renowned Tempranillos and Garnachas, a veritable wine paradise where tintos and blancos are life and death. It’s a place where many residents not only love wine and consume tons of it, but make it too. All that being true, it might seem strange that every year the residents of Haro gather together to waste thousands of gallons of wine on purpose.
It isn’t one big spill, it isn’t a sacrifice to the wine gods, it’s a battle- The Great Wine Battle of Haro.
Traditionally, June 29th marked a day of feasting and toasting for St. Peter. As time went on, however, Haro dwellers thought less and less about St. Peter and more and more about the toasting. What began as a religious holiday now exists almost entirely as a three day festival devoted to wine and centered around the wine battle.
The battle begins on the streets of Haro the night of the 28th. Little sleeping occurs as dancing and drinking takes over the plazas and public spaces. The next morning, with hangovers and water guns in hand, those looking to participate in the battle head over to a nearby mountain, which serves as the battlefield.
To be clear, this isn’t just a couple groups of friends heading outside to spray wine into each other’s mouths and mess around, the wine battle draws thousands. In order to keep the battle going for hours , water trucks filled with wine are driven to the mountain. These trucks dispense wine into buckets, containers and all sorts of water guns until it’s gone. Afterwards, the vino warriors descend from the mountain and dance ’til they can dance no more.
While certainly spilled, the wine lost at La Batalla de Vino in Haro is far from wasted. If anything, the battle is a celebration of wine and an appreciation of the joy it brings to all. It is a place where people “cover each other in wine, dance to wine soaked bands and kiss wine covered mouths.” That, it must be said, sounds like a place worth being.
Haven’t you ever loved something enough to cover your body with it? If you feel that way about wine, this is one for the bucket list.