6 Weird & Wonderful Wine Customs Around the World

By June 20, 2015November 23rd, 2015No Comments

Around the world there are an awful lot of different ways to drink wine; and some of them are downright odd. We’ve got a little roundup here of some of the world’s weirdest, wildest ways of drinking wine. Who knows; you might learn to love one of strange wine habits yourself.


Drinking it out of a shoe in Ukraine


You read that right. This strange Ukrainian tradition is limited to weddings, where one of the more popular pranks is to try and grab one of the bride’s shoes. If successful, the thief earns the right to make some light-hearted demands of guests, with a common one being to drink wine, (or sometimes vodka), from the stolen shoe. Gross, right? Apparently nowadays it’s more likely that a glass will be strapped to the shoe to drank from; but you’ll still have to bring it dangerously close to your face.


Toasting in Georgia


Toasting with wine is nothing crazy, but the folks in Georgia take it to a whole other level. The country is renowned for taking its toasts seriously; if you’re ever fortunate enough to find yourself at an authentic supra (feast), don’t be surprised if you’ll be expected to participate in more than 20 toasts over the course of a single meal. It’s all led by a tamada, who will lead various toasts on any subject and that Georgians sometimes refer to as the “dictator” of the table. Wine is the drink of choice, though the toasting can take in spirits too.


Drinking it with ice in Japan


This one will make the more serious wine enthusiasts amongst you wrinkle your faces in anger; apparently, in Japan, it’s becoming trendy to drink wine “on the rocks”, i.e. over a cube or two of ice. According to a USDA report, restaurants like Denny’s are leading the charge and drinkers love it for its “simplicity and brisk taste”… right. Whether they’re a bunch of wine heretics or just ahead of the curve, we’ll leave up to you.


Mixing it with cola in Europe


Another, maybe even more sacrilegious is the habit that some Europeans have picked up of mixing red wine and cola. Over the last few years it has become more popular – surprisingly – in France. But its not only a French affliction; over the last few years a concoction known as kalimotxo – a budget mixture of cola and cheap red wine – has become hugely popular in Spain, particularly the Basque country and particularly amongst young, less monetarily blessed drinkers.


Throwing it on each other in Spain


Of all our excursions in to the freaky things people get up to with their wine, this one sounds like the most fun. The Haro Wine Festival, (named for the town in which it takes place in La Rioja, northern Spain), basically involves the whole town getting together on the June 29, dressing in white and dousing everyone and anyone in as much red wine as they can. It’s all to celebrate the Feast of Saints Paul and Peter, apparently.


Opening it with fire and ice in Portugal

Props to the Portuguese, who manage to get crazy with their wine before its even out of the bottle. For years, the Portugal’s servers have been using an inventive and pretty impressive method of opening bottles of their uniquely sweet, fortified port wine without disturbing any of its sediment and messing up the taste. A pair of tongs are heated in fire and clamped around the neck of the bottle. Then, the bottle is rapidly placed in ice. The sudden change in temperature causes the bottle to cleanly break where the clamps are; a mess free opening without any real disturbance of the wine itself.


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