Kalimotxo, also spelled calimocho, is a Basque wine and coca cola confection that has recently started getting a lot of attention.  You may have read about it in the New York Times or heard about it among hipsters.  Pepsi is now selling it as some sort of fancy beverage and Spaniards are hot about it.  

They say that necessity is the mother of invention and kalimotxo is no exception.  This drink is relatively new, having come to light in the summer of 1972. Before that kalimotxo was a drink found around Bilbao and was called a Rioja Libre because it mixed wine with coke instead of rum and coke like a Cuba Libre.  Rioja because it is a region famous for it’s red wine.  However, it´s origins go back even further to a group of Italian immigrants in the Basque country who mixed their chianti wine with coca cola so they could party all night without getting too drunk.  

In August of 1972 when the organizers of a summer festival in Algorta, a small town in northern Spain, discovered the wine they were going to sell tasted awful, they were desperate to find a way to cover that up.  Enter the Rioja Libre not known by that name but also popular with local teens as an easy and cheap party beverage. Among area teens it was known as a Kalimero. The organizers didn’t like that name so they fused it with the Basque ending motxo which means ugly to create the name kalimotxo.

As a true blue wine lover and no fan of coke I was highly suspicious of this concoction and even made fun of it, that is until I tried it.  It is surprisingly refreshing and can add the right the touch of sweet to an acidic or very young red wine.  And just like the Italians, I discovered it is the perfect drink for all night dance parties and festivals.  You don’t have to buy it from Pepsi, you probably already have the ingredients handy in your refrigerator.  However if you insist on something fancy  just add lemon or an orange slice.  Why not make a big bowl and serve it at your next party!  When you do be sure to play the famous Spanish drinking song Kalimotxo by Porterras.

If you want to learn more come join me for this Saturday, 29 April for Spanish Wine 101: Beyond Ribera and Rioja in collaboration with Eat Out Madrid and Cafe Di Vino where we will be demystifying Spanish wine culture one drink at a time.  Space is limited get tickets here.

What other Spanish drinks do you know and love?




Cafe Di Vino

Malasaña, is one of the most emblematic neighborhoods in Madrid. Deep in the heart of this neighborhood lies Café di Vino a hidden gem of a wine shop.  Not only does it have a fabulous selection of older and newer wine from all over Spain, this store cum wine bar also specializes in coffee.  Café di Vino is your stop for an authentic Madrid experience with great wines, vermouths and coffees.  The owner Lourdes is a generous host and guide to all things coffee and wine. And it is one of your last chances to hobnob with some real neighborhood characters whilst gossiping over wine.  If you´re enamored with early Almodovar films and are a wine fan this is the place for you.

Wanna an excuse to check it out? Come join me this Saturday, 29 April for Spanish Wine 101: Beyond Ribera and Rioja tasting.  Space is limited, purchase tickets here.

Wine is for Stressful Times


Ten days into the Trump administration and away we go!  If this is any indication, it will be a real challenge to stay calm, cool and collected.  Dear winers what can we do?

Fear not! There is an easy way to find respite within with the maelstrom. By connecting and committing ourselves to things we already do in our daily lives. If you are reading this I know you have more than a passive interest in wine. Instead of gulping your wine in an effort to find momentary relief.  Allow that wine to be a respite from the chaos.  As we´ve learned from a Nicole Angela wine tasting experience, every glass of wine is an invitation to appreciate our world by honing in on what makes that wine so unique. In these difficult times, we must learn to find refuge and anchor ourselves within these moments of everyday life.

This lovely wine meditation is courtesy of Ms.Mindbody.  Her website is chock full of straight ahead advice for using meditation and yoga as a way to awaken and open up to life. Please note, this exercise can be done with a cup of tea or any beverage that you enjoy (so long as it is not soda).

Wine Meditation

Pour yourself a glass of wine in the nicest glass you have. You want this beverage to appeal to all your senses—a lovely glass not only looks nice, but will feel good in your hands.

Carry your glass of wine to a quiet, comfortable spot to sit and take a good seat—both feet flat on the floor, spine tall, chest open.

Take and look at it.  What colors do you see and what do those colors remind you of?  Think of the many people who had a hand in creating that wine, the growers who cultivate the grapes and the workers who picked them, the sun and soil for nourishing the grapevines, the trees that provided the barrel and cork. Acknowledge and thank them for their hand in providing you this delicious beverage. Now lift the glass and inhale. What do you smell? Strawberry bubble gum with a chalky aftertaste, green apple with a dash of lavender or ripe cherries with a hint of dark chocolate and pepper?

Take a sip and let the wine coat your tongue . What do you taste?  Close your eyes and really focus on the flavors. What is happening in your body? Take at least one full inhale and exhale before you swallow.

Once that first sip is down, notice, what has changed in your body?

Repeat until the glass is done. Start with a small pour—the idea is to make the meditation so appealing that you actually do it and then feel accomplished. If you lose focus half-way through a big glass of wine, that kills some of the purpose.  

Now more than ever, we need rituals that ground us in the reality of our daily lives, to reminds us that the beauty and simplicity of life rests in these small moments of pleasure.

If you’re in Madrid come join me for some rowdy mid-winter hijinks at Not Your Mama´s Valentine’s Tasting where we will celebrate this snoozefest of a holiday the pagan way with big fun and lots of wine.  Friday, 10 February 20:30-22 @ Savia Bruta Floral Taller.

On Wine.

On Wine. A Tragedy.


This person who….opens a wine and enjoys it for what it is panics the minute an expert enters, hoping to not be admonished for their choice. They have been taught that there is a correct answer to the question: is this wine good. The wine industry has taught a generation of wine drinkers that there is a right answer. That there is a possibility to get wine wrong. Shame on us.

This honest, heartfelt article was written by Ryan Opaz from Catavino. Catavino was one of the websites I obsessively followed to educate myself on Spanish wines.  I don’t remember how I found them, but they were and still are an essential reference for Spanish and Portuguese wine.  What I love most about them is the passion with which they talk about wine.  They do so using frank, no bullshit, straight ahead language.   When they describe a wine or talk about a particular producer, region or wine concept, what shines through is their excitement in sharing their discoveries and insights. They never speak down to their audience, though they obviously have extensive wine backgrounds.  They simply share their contagious joy and wonder with the knowledge to back it up.  Nor do you feel inadequate for not knowing; of course you don’t know, since the point is for all of us to learn. My sincere hope is that in pointing out this strict “right and wrong” attitude, we can then put it aside in favor of a more relaxed and authentic engagement with the wine world.  

I come to wine as an awestruck aficionado, eager to share whatever tidbits I can find about wine, specifically Spanish wine.  In the beginning, I was met with a fair amount of skepticism; the unasked question being who was I to assume I could learn and share anything about wine.  Who was I, this black girl from Alaska with no wine background to speak of, to presume I could learn, let alone teach, about wine.  I was asked to show my bonafides before I even got started.  I knew immediately that I wanted to carve out a space in the wine world for folks like me–eager to learn more about wine, excited to discover new wines and looking for fun!  I wanted to make it okay for us to learn and grow into wine together, and to remind us that wine is inherently a natural, social experience.  

When I started Nicole Angela Travel & Taste that was exactly what I set out to do: create wine experiences that were as enjoyable and inviting as they were informative.  It was simply a way to encourage people to fall as deeply in love with Spanish wine, this beautiful land and the amazing people who make it as I did.  I’ve also figured out that wine is a wonderful way to connect more profoundly to your tastes, to discover what those are and find creative ways to express them. Without Catavino´s example,  I wouldn’t have known that this more enthusiastic and unpretentious way of engaging with wine was possible.  Thanks to Catavino for always reminding us of what’s true in this vast wine world.
Intrigued?  Come to a Nicole Angela tasting or tour and see for yourself what fun wine can be.

Tiny Bubbles: Spanish Cava


The holidays are here and what better way to get into the festive mood than with a bubbly beverage.  While most people go for champagne you will get more bang for your buck and more versatility with the Spanish bubbly, cava.  There is very little difference between the two. In fact, cava is the most champagne like of the all the bubbly wines.  But I would argue there is so much more to love about cava as cava rather than aspiring for champagne.  In Valencia for example, cava isn’t just for special occasions but more often than not is enjoyed as a starter with cheeses and other appetizers before a meal.  

And what exactly is the difference between champagne and cava?  Outside of name and grape choice nothing.  The process of making cava is exactly the same as champagne. The difference between cava and champagne is the type of grapes used and name. Champagne is a region and so only sparkling wines made from this specific area made in that specific way can be called champagne. In Spanish it is known as Méthode Champenoise or Método Tradicional.  The reason why the methods are the same has to do with the phylloxera plague (a nasty aphid like bug) that, in the early 19th century, destroyed all European vines starting with France. The plague drove many French wine producers into Spain. 

People familiar with cava know that it comes from Catalonia specifically Penedes.  Cava also comes from Extremadura, Rioja, Ribera del Guadiana, Cariñena and Utiel-Requena.  I am currently obsessed with organic cavas from Utiel-Requena such as Vega Medien and Vegalfaro Brut Nature Reserva 2013.  Utiel-Requena was the second D.O. (Denominación de Origen aka wine region) to get permission to make cava.  

The traditional cava grapes are Viura (aka Macabeo), Xarel.lo, and Parellada.  There are cavas that are all three, or just two, and in some cases just a single grape variety.  As of late you will find other varieties, most notably garnacha which makes a lovely dusty pink rose cava or bobal which creates a vibrant fluorescent pink cava.

Cava, like champagne, is classified by the amount of sugar added per litre.  Brut Nature has about 3g of naturally occurring sugar. Extra Brut has up to 6g added in the form of licor de expedition which as mixture of sugar, a liquor and wine. Brut has up to 12g of added sugar, Extra Seco between 12-17g of added sugar, Seco between 17-32 g of added sugar, Semi-seco between 32-50 g of added sugar and finally Dulce which has more than 50g of sugar. Brut Nature is the most versatile, it is best for pairing with all kinds of savory foods from cheeses, to seafoods to mushrooms or rice dishes and is especially nice with foie.

Cavas can be white, rose and red and are an ideal wine choice because they are suitable for most all foods.  Go to cava to add a bit more pizzaz to your holiday but even after, cava will be there to make any meal or event an occasion worth celebrating.

I will be sampling a selection of cavas on Saturday, 17 December at V. Manneken from 18:30 to 20.  Swing by for cava and delicious cava cocktail before heading out into a night of holiday festivities.  Sign up here.