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Happy Columbus Day! What wines were with Columbus in 1492?

on 14/10/13 at 8:46 am


index“Monday is Columbus Day and I would like to celebrate the day with a wine similar to the wines taken on his journeys. I have done some research and have not been able to find what wines, if any, Columbus’ crew had on board. Remember, he was an Italian sailing under the Spanish flag. Would he have taken Italian or Spanish wines? Or would he have selected French or Portuguese wines?

Just what wines were available in 1492? How were they stored? How could they be transported? How would you keep them from going bad? Bottles did not exist but barrels did. The ancient Greeks used amphora to transport wine. In 1473 Columbus was apprenticed to a trading company as a business manager. They traded in the Aegean Sea area. Would he have used Greek shipping techniques?

Since he sailed under the Spanish flag it is reasonable to assume that he took Spanish wines. Sherry was the popular Spanish wine of the day. I have read about Columbus taking sherry on his voyages but I have not been able to verify that as a fact.

Today Sherry is a fortified wine which means that it has brandy or neutral grain spirit distillations added to the wine. This increases the alcohol to a level of about 20 percent. This technique was not used in the time of Columbus so Sherry would have been a normal wine.”