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La Tienda in the Press

The Atlantic - December 04, 2013
The Atlantic

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Conor Friedersdorf

Goatskin Wine Bag ($99)
Conor Friedersdorf, Staff Writer (Politics)

Per the custom of my country, I typically pour my wine from a glass bottle into a stemmed glass. I thus ignore one of the most obvious lessons contained in Ernest Hemingway's literature: that it is far more grand to drink wine from a leather bag of hand-crafted goat hide. If you're not yet persuaded, I suggest revisiting a scene from The Sun Also Rises. A Basque man with a leather wine bag in his lap takes the opportunity of a bus ride to offer a sip to his traveling companions. One raises the wine skin to his lips, tilts his head back, lets a stream of wine spurt into his mouth, and dribbles a few drops down his chin.

No, no, several men tell him, not like that! "One snatched the bottle away from the owner, who was himself about to give a demonstration," Hemingway writes. "He was a young fellow and he held the wine-bottle at full arms’ length and raised it high up, squeezing the leather bag with his hand so the stream of wine hissed into his mouth. He held the bag out there, the wine making a flat, hard trajectory into his mouth, and he kept on swallowing smoothly and regularly … Then he bit the stream off sharp, made a quick lift with the wine-bag."

Do you aspire to sip your wine? Or to stream wine through the air, so that it makes a flat, hard trajectory toward your mouth as you drink your fill and dexterously bite off the stream?

The better choice requires a bota of your own, and Las Tres Z.Z.Z. of Pamplona hand-sews theirs. Some are lined with latex. The ones lined with pitch are more authentic, but require curing: "First, warm it in the sun so that the pitch within will distribute evenly. Next, blow into the opening of the bota to inflate it, separating the sides; the warmer the pitch the easier it will be to inflate the bota. Add cold water and set the bota aside to cure. After a few days, replace the water with inexpensive wine and let it cure for as long as you can. When you finally discard the wine your bota will be ready for use."

Doesn't that sound like the better option?

¡Salud!

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