You can imagine my reaction when, while floating around randomly on my first day in Malaga, I saw a sign saying “Wine Museum”. “This must be a mirage,” I thought. Having recently visited Florence, where there’s an enoteca on every street, I’d so far been disappointed by Malaga’s apparent lack of wine shops. Impressed by its baroque architecture and tapas bars yes… but disappointed by its lack of wine shops.
I was in town alone, as my friends were not due to arrive until the next day, and I’d been wandering the streets following no more guidance than my usual city-break rule of “at any juncture, always go down the narrowest street” (a rule that proved helpful later on when I found a hidden hippie arts centre called La Casa Invisible, where there was a free gig on). I checked Google Maps on my phone, to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating. It confirmed there was indeed a wine museum around the corner — unless Google was also implicated in the conspiratorial mirage.
“Hmm, wine is not as fashionable as beer,” I thought, stepping into the restored 18th century foyer. Sure it was a Friday afternoon, but I was sure a craft beer museum would have been packed to the rafters at this time. This place was empty. Empty, of course, apart from the young, art-studenty guy at the desk, to whom I handed over the 5 Euro entrance fee. He reciprocated with a laminated info sheet and I strolled off to look at their collection of 19th century wine labels.
I immediately fell for their pretty, floral, art nouveau-inspired style, but was later stunned to find they weren’t selling any prints of them as posters, or at least postcards, in the shop. I would totally have bought a few. They’re missing a huge trick there, and I made sure they knew it.
Upstairs was less arty and more factual. Once I realised there were English translations underneath each exhibit (I’m a bit slow on the uptake) I learned lots about local wine production, viticultural history, grape varieties and terroir. But the best bits were the holes you could stick your nose into to experience the smells found in Malaga’s wines. Not knowing the Spanish for most of them, I turned it into a guessing game, then looked them up online afterwards to see if I was right. I did ok(ish), thanks for asking.
But the pleasant surprises weren’t over — I hadn’t realised my meagre entrance fee included a tasting. Being the only person there, I thought I’d grill my friend from the desk about local attractions while guzzling away on the museum’s stock. He was happy to help; pointing me in the direction of the cathedral, Roman amphitheatre and Moorish castle ruins, marking their locations on my map. We had a good old chat. He kept apologising for his English which, let’s face it, was far better than my pigeon Spanish. Lovely guy.
Oh, you want to know about the wine? Yeah, sorry. The first was an example of the region’s principal grape variety, Moscatel (Spanish for Muscat), which smelled of honey, lavender and pear. Malaga is mostly known for sweet wines, but this was pretty dry. Muy bien it was, too. The second was more like a sherry — 15 per cent alcohol, and you could smell it too. I didn’t enjoy it as much as the first, but I appreciated the warm glow it enveloped me in as I wobbled back out into the spring afternoon sunshine in search of a Roman amphitheatre. And maybe another glass of Moscatel.
See Museo Del Vino Malaga for details.