Surely you’ve heard of a little festival in Spain called San Fermín. A 427-year-old celebration of Basque culture, San Fermín attracts thousands of people to the small Spanish town of Pamplona. If San Fermín rings a bell, it’s probably for one big reason: El Encierro or “Running with the Bulls.” Yes, San Fermín is most well-known for enticing adrenaline junkies from around the world to run alongside the most powerful mammal in Europe. You might be thinking, “Wow, I would never be dumb enough to try that. I would probably be really bored in Pamplona if I ever went.” How wrong you are, my friend. The city of Pamplona has plenty to offer to those who choose not to risk their lives for fun. So, what do the people of Pamplona do while the streets are shut down for the runs? Watch. And wine.
From the beautiful apartment balconies above the Pamplona streets, people can observe the festivities. As people start lining the streets for the run, onlookers can enjoy the intensity of the event with Spanish snacks and beverages. And nothing calms the “I might-see-a-human-get-trampled-by-a-bull-today” nerves like the Kalimotxo (cal-lee-mo-cho).
The Kalimotxo, one of Basque country’s oldest concoctions, is possibly the easiest mixed drink to whip together:
Step 1: Fill a glass halfway with ice.
Step 2: Fill the glass half full with red wine.
Step 3: Top off the glass with Coca-Cola.
Garnish with something random you find in your kitchen (we suggest a cocktail umbrella, always).
iSalúd! You’ve got yourself a Kalimotxo.
Upon learning about the ingredients in a Kalimotxo, there are two distinct types of people. First, there are those who wrinkle their noses in disgust. Do not let these fools sway your excitement. Shortly after trying a Kalimotxo, the doubters quickly realize it’s the sip of the summer.
The second type of person is much more optimistic when hearing about the recipe for a Kalimotxo. Their eyes light up as they say, “holy shiraz!” These people have just realized that Coke and red wine, their two go-to beverages, have been beautifully married into one glass.
It’s important to note that there is no wrong way to make a Kalimotxo. Typically, a Kalimotxo calls for one part Coca-Cola for every one part red wine. However, if you feel you want to bend the rules a bit, you can adjust that ratio to suit your needs. Since Kalimotxo is a social drink and normally consumed among large groups of people in a festive setting, Spaniards don’t traditionally use the most expensive wines from their cellars.
If you want the most authentic or traditional Kalimotxo, it is best to use a Spanish red. We recommend a Tempranillo (a.k.a. Rioja). Spanish recipe + Spanish wine = a fiesta of flavors in your mouth.
In Spain, the Kalimotxo is a drink most popular amongst a younger crowd with less experienced palates. So, the wines they use are often less expensive.
If you’re looking for the most authentic Spanish Kalimotxo, you should opt for a $15 Tempranillo over a $60 Cabernet Sauvignon.
If you’d rather judge a drink’s quality based on flavor alone, we’ve got some pairings for you. In order to make the ideal Kalimotxo, think about the different flavors of Coca-Cola that you see on the shelf at the supermarket – Cherry Coke, Diet Coke (yes, it tastes different than regular Coke), Vanilla Coke and a whole slew of others. The geniuses at Coca-Cola have given us a gift. All these flavors give us hints as to which one might pair best with specific wine tasting notes. To make a delicious Kalimotxo, make sure that the flavors in your wine compliment the flavors in your soda.
For an Italian twist on the Spanish classic, choosing a Chianti with sour cherry flavors can really highlight the fruity aspects of a Kalimotxo. Another great wine match, especially for those who love richer, oakier vino, is a wine with hints of vanilla or baking spices (like California Red Blends or Merlots). If you’re feeling adventurous, try an Australian Shiraz. The bold, spicy flavors of this varietal can hold their own against the already complex Coca-Cola.
Hopefully you’re heading to Pamplona soon to check out the festivities of San Fermín and enjoy the Kalimotxo in it’s most natural environment. However, if the streets of Spain aren’t in your near future, or in your budget, we suggest safely sipping a Kalimotxo while watching tiny kids try to outrun a dog in a fenced-in backyard. Similar experience, without the underlying fear of massive injury. Actually, maybe the fear is still there, we don’t know your kids.