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 August 2010  Features at Wine & Spirits

Iberia's White West
In Portugal, the wine you drink is all about the people you know. More than the fresh sardines on the grill, the suckling pig in the oven or the bacalhau on your plate, it's often networks of friends who lead you to the wine in your glass. Sure, you might say, that's the same everywhere. Yes and no. Few great wine regions are as challenging to navigate or as conspicuously mysterious as the vinelands that spread out from Oporto. Whether you're lost in the foggy hills of Vinho Verde or the terraced steeps of the Douro, the best way to find your destination is to call on a friend who knows.

The complete article is available in the print edition of Wine & Spirits.

Mt. Etna
My overloaded bicycle strains for every hard-won inch up the side of the volcano—the squeal of the bicycle chain and my own gasping for breath the only sounds on this side of the mountain. Something a producer in the last town told me loops in my head as I peddle: For every 200 meters you head up Etna, you harvest your grapes a week later. My front tire ebbs into the first week of September, then on into the second, then eventually into the early weeks of October, the entire mountain exploding in the shocking, yellow-green vine leaves of spring, nearly everything down below me the improbable color of antifreeze.

The complete article is available in the print edition of Wine & Spirits.

Monemvasia
It started about five years ago. Greek wines made from petroulianos and kidonitsa started to turn up in New York. These were grapes I'd never heard of and they tasted like no others: Kidonitsa was redolent of kidoni, quince in Greek; petroulianos, whether it takes its name from petra (stone) or not, had a distinctly stony flavor to it.

The complete article is available in the print edition of Wine & Spirits.

Greek Pie
Six a.m. in the February dark, snow slicking Athens' marble sidewalks. A light glows from a bakery, windows clouded with warm humidity, scents of vanilla and cinnamon wafting from an open back door. I go in the front just as the counter lady sets out a pie nearly the size of a bicycle wheel. We pantomime and she gingerly slips a large triangle of it onto a piece of waxed paper before sliding it into a paper bag. She hands it to me, saying something incomprehensible.

The complete article is available in the print edition of Wine & Spirits.

Empandas de Compostela
You are in the twelfth century. You live in a little town close to, I don't know, Bremen, and for some reason (probably something evil that you did) you begin a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. Rumor has it that if you worship the relics of the Apostle James, you'll win yourself a slice of paradise. Of course, it's the Middle Ages, which means you'll be traveling the 1,500 miles to Santiago on foot.

The complete article is available in the print edition of Wine & Spirits.