Next event: Spanish Wine 101, Thursday 30th November, 9:00 PM – 10:30 PM
By Jeffery Dingler
Photos: Katie McEwan & J. Dingler
It’s not every pub you can get delicious brunch during the day and a special Halloween-themed wine tasting at night. (There’ll be other themes!) Ópalo is just that place for the person seeking some beer, spirits or delicious food. Opened just a couple of months ago, this new gastro pub is right outside of Plaza Mayor on Calle Zaragoza. It’s quickly become known for hosting festive tastings and special events (this doesn’t include the weekly “bottomless” brunch, unlimited mimosas and beer mimosas for twenty-five euros).
Last Saturday, I got to attend one of these special events at Ópalo, a Hallowine tasting. Fifteen euros bought you four different wine samples, each paired with freshly made tapas. Suffice it to say, these were delicious Spanish wines. For the first tasting we had Viña AB, an Amontillado Fino from Bodegas Gonzalez Byass. This powerful sherry was served with cuts of eggplant marinated in a spicy soy sauce. Next up was a very smooth white wine called Ladron de Lunas paired with freshly fried croquetas. However, my favorite was the last wine of the night, Garnacha de Fuego from winemaker Jorge Ordóñez. For this dessert wine, the kitchen cooked up gruesome red velvet cupcakes with shards of sugar glass jutting out of them (complete with fake blood).
But more than the delicious wine and food, the festive and creative atmosphere is what really made this wine tasting a unique event. The host of Hallowine, Nicole Pearson, had draped the walls of this old cellar with fake cobwebs, tied around the lights ghostly balloons, and complimented each wine we tasted with tales of horror or Halloween-themed questions. There was even a table with tarot cards. Each guest got to select a single card, and at the end of the night Ms. Pearson would read it for them. Never one for fortune telling (the less you know the better), I decided not to pick a card. But if I had, I’m sure it would’ve said that my future held more wonderful wine tastings like this one. Like Spanish Wine 101.
Jeff Dingler is a writer and actor who has won several awards including B-Metro’s B-published fiction contest (2015) for his short story “For Fred with the Rose-Colored Smile” as well as scholarships to the New York State Summer Writers Institute (2015 and 2017). He graduated summa cum laude from Skidmore College and Wallace State Community College. He lives in Saratoga Springs, NY but has recently relocated to Madrid which may or may not be on a temporary basis.