Wine Tourism Spain’s brief: to explore the possible relationship between wine and extraterrestrial life. How would aliens react to wine? Would wine play a role in the way that aliens perceive Earth?
It’s tricky, a little off-piste for me (with a 500 word limit), but here you go …
Aliens Take on (Spanish) Wine
Two aliens observe the Salamanca scene – human beings drinking a kind of poison in the grace of the Plaza Mayor.
Wafted wine rumours have been detected light years away by their own kind: wine is good and bad for people – they love it, but too much can make them sick. It can divide them, but infuses every human celebration.
Confusion has rocked the aliens’ rulers: nothing like this is possible in their cool black and white world. But their population is rising – there have even been worrying cases of live grey births.
They give their spies (5217B and 3843W) one Earth Day and Night in Spain (a great wine-loving nation) to get to grips with wine.
A museum in the region known as La Rioja tells the centuries-old (global) story.
Grapes make wine, both white and red (a colour that warms yet scares the aliens).
So white grapes make white wine and red grapes make red wine?
No: there are yellow-green, green and golden grapes, and red, deep purple and black grapes. The aliens’ black (5217B) and white (3843W) faces light up with an expression (this is new) of surprise.
That’s not all – white wine can be made from dark red or black grapes, and there is rosé wine too (made from red grapes whose skins have the merest contact with the juice). And there’s even wine with fizz … it’s dizzying.
Time to sober up (metaphorically-speaking) with a zap around the country, accompanied by some frighteningly foreign food.
The aliens smart at pungent garlicky smells, the sourness of wine breath, before smiles tug at their straight-lined mouths when they witness romance. They note the focus on faces pouring wine for others, and the sweet savouring of a crisp dry white.
But frowns form when they come across ugly arguments and black moods filled with lonely despair. A loud smack on a child by a wine-glugging parent stings them too.
In the far south-west, by the ocean, the aliens find Sanlúcar de Barrameda, where the finest Manzanilla (a fino sherry) is made. Such attention to detail by the people who produce it. Such a strange salty taste – their faces distort. They sip again, just to make sure they don’t like it.
Then back to La Rioja for a full-on wine fight which goes on all night.
Dawn brings the sun with its blaze of colours, as 5217B and 3843W rest on a hilltop. A bottle of wine sits between them.
“Can I call you María? Just for this mission?” 5217B asks.
“Sí,” the newly christened María giggles, blushing a deep pink, “if I can call you Pedro?”
Pedro turns beetroot.
What should they tell their rulers? Mankind is complicated? Wine tastes strangely nice? Life on earth isn’t black and white? Of the danger of seeing Planet Earth through rosé-coloured spectacles?
Maybe. But María and Pedro want to linger. Maybe mañana.