by Juel Mahoney
Txakoli is one of those wine geeky wines. For people who pride themselves on ordering complex wines, at first glance, Txakoli is a strange choice. Apart from the intimidating Basque X in the name, there’s not a lot to it.
And that’s not a criticism.
Txakoli (pronounced Cha-co-li) is a bone-dry, low-alcohol, relatively simple white wine that tastes of fresh green apples followed by a thrilling rush of bitter-sweet bubbles. The grapes are grown along coastal vineyards in the Basque country (you will find bottles in cafes in San Sebastian and Bilbao). And that would be the all to the story, but then…
Something very cool happens to Txakoli when it’s poured.
How to Pour Txakoli
What’s this all about?
Pouring from a height aerates the wine, knocks out the carbon dioxide and increases the amount of bubbles in the glass. And of course, the higher the pour, the more captivated the customers.
Is it necessary to pour from this height? I started to wonder whether the tradition began simply because it’s just so much fun pouring wine from a two metre height.
But no, wine without the Txakoli Pour is less lively and energetic in the glass.
In the Basque country, the wine has a special pourer fitted to the top so it can be poured from a height at a 90 degree angle to the glass creating a silver stream of bubbles.
However, if you don’t have a special Txakoli pourer, it is easy enough to modify the bottle’s cork into an impromptu device.
Below is a diagram of a Txakoli cork we drew on the menu at Barrafina in Soho one night:
It’s not as hard as this plan suggests. You can simply slice a narrow wedge along the length of the cork and then put it back in the bottle. Then stand on a chair and aim for the glasses below. The higher, the better.
From an extra height, the bubbles are intensified. And it is the spritzy acidity that refreshes and cleanses the palate. It is delicate enough to have with fish and seafood, yet it is a good tart retort to even the oiliest chorizo.
Yes, Txakoli is theatrical. It’s a wine that draws a crowd around it when its poured. Part of the appeal of Txakoli is definitely the show-off factor for the pourer. This is not something to be dismissed. Even wine geeks want to have fun sometimes. And customers at tapas bars definitely do.
About Bodega Rezebal Txakoli
Our new white Txakoli is from Getariako Txakolina region near the Pyrenees in the Basque. Made with the local grape, Hondarrabi Zuri, the vineyards face the Bay of Biscay. The planting system uses both trellis and trained vines to a height of around 1.8 metres.
The result is a young white wine, bright greeny yellow, slightly acidic and effervescent, with hints of fruit and a moderate degree of alcohol, of around 10.5º to 11º. On the nose it has high aromatic intensity. Serving temperature 8º-10º C. It is brilliant with grilled seafood.