Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Wines of Tenerife, 1699

The following is excerpted from "A Voyage to New Holland Etc.", 1729, by Captain William Dampier, Third Edition. The book describes "The Canary Islands, the Isles of Mayo and St. Jago." amongst other topics. This section on Malmsey and Verdona wine from the island of Tenerife (today a popular holiday destination) is particularly interesting.

The true malmsey wine grows in this island; and this here is said to be the best of its kind in the world. Here is also canary wine, and verdona, or green wine. The canary grows chiefly on the west side of the island; and therefore is commonly sent to Oratavia; which being the chief seaport for trade in the island, the principal English merchants reside there, with their consul; because we have a great trade for this wine.

I was told that that town is bigger than Laguna; that it has but one church, but many convents: that the port is but ordinary at best and is very bad when the north-west winds blow. These norwesters give notice of their coming by a great sea that tumbles in on the shore for some time before they come, and by a black sky in the north-west. Upon these signs ships either get up their anchors, or slip their cables and put to sea, and ply off and on till the weather is over. Sometimes they are forced to do so 2 or 3 times before they can take in their lading; which it is hard to do here in the fairest weather: and for fresh water they send, as I have said, to Santa Cruz.

Verdona is green, strong-bodied wine, harsher and sharper than canary. It is not so much esteemed in Europe, but is exported to the West Indies, and will keep best in hot countries; for which reason I touched here to take in some of it for my voyage. This sort of wine is made chiefly on the east side of the island, and shipped off at Santa Cruz.

No comments:

Post a Comment