Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Mice Of Gonzalez Byass Winery, Spain

A story in the Daily Mail about a shrew that can drink nine glasses of wine brought this to mind.

I lived in southern Spain for three years back in the mid-80's. It was the heart of the Sherry region; the little village I lived in, Rota, was at one time famous for its own wine, known as Rota Tent, now long vanished from the wine scene.

Anyway, in nearby Jerez de la Frontera are found most of the bodegas (wineries) that produce Spain's Sherry, and much of her brandy, as well. Gonzalez Byass Bodega is arguably the most famous, and its dry Tio Pepe sherry is world famous.

Gonzalez Byass is also famous for its wine-drinking mice. They dwell in the bodega, living off of drippings from the new butts of wine and from spillage that occurs when "running the scales," which is a blending process that is used in the making of Sherry.

The mice also sip from glasses of Sherry that are provided for them during tasting tours at Gonzalez Byass. Toward the end of the tour the guide pours a glass of Sherry, sets it on the floor, and leans a small wooden ladder against it. Mice run out from under the nearby butts of Sherry, and walk up the ladder to sip from the glass. It's a wonderful photo opportunity and usually the hit of the tasting tour.

During my own tour, one desperate alcoholic mouse wasn't willing to wait his turn at the ladder, and so got off to a running start and leaped headfirst at the glass, knocking his companion off the ladder in the process.

Here's a pic I found on the internet of the mice sipping:

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