Try a Shot of Shakespeare’s Snifter at the Malvasía Museum in Icod de Los Vinos

Mon, March 12th, 2012 - By Andrea Montgomery

Oh Knight, thou lackest a cup of canary; when did I see thee so put down?” asked Sir Toby Belch in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.
Clearly a man of good sense as well as good taste, Sir Toby’s reference had little to do with Tweety Pie and a great deal to do with the sweet, Malvasía (mal-va-see-ya) wine of Tenerife – the Cabernet Sauvignon of its time.

Back in its day – more than 300 years ago – Malvasía was considered the best wine in the world, so good in fact that the Bard himself received a barrel a year as part of his salary – no wonder he waxed so lyrically about it. But then along came Madeira wines to undercut the Malvasía and replace it with a new darling of the Colonies so slowly, the Malvasía grape fell out of favour.

But now it’s making a come back. Or at least, it is in Icod de los Vinos where, fittingly, one of the beautiful 17th century houses around Plaza de la Pila has been tenderly restored and converted into a museum dedicated to the canary wine and its many celebrated fans in literature.

Naturally the Bard takes centre stage with framed scrolls showing extracts of mentions of ‘canary’ from his various works and a portrait of the man himself alongside quotes from an impressive who’s who of wine quaffing wordsmiths which includes John Locke, Immanuel Kant, Casanova, Ben Jonson, Herman Melville, Edgar Rice Burroughs and John Keats.

As museums go, the Malvasía Museum in Icod is one of my favourites, its emphasis being not only on learning about the famous grape, but also allowing some practical, hands-on experience in the way of tasting and naturally, the chance to purchase some history and take it home to impress dinner guests with quotes from Sir Toby Belch.

Beautiful tea wood shelves are stacked with varieties of wines from across the Canary Islands, including the Malvasía itself whose label is adorned with its famous advocate. You’ll also find honey and banana rums, Guajiro rum from Tejina and a tasty assortment of locally produced cheeses, mojos and savouries to serve as nibbles along with your cup of canary.

And if none of that rings your bell, the museum has a delightful courtyard surrounded by papaya and banana trees in which you can raise your glass to Sir Toby while you contemplate why, amidst all this wine paraphernalia, there’s a picture of Marilyn Monroe on the wall. Answers on a postcard please…

Posted : Monday, March 12th, 2012 at 10:10 am
Category : food and drink
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One Response to “Try a Shot of Shakespeare’s Snifter at the Malvasía Museum in Icod de Los Vinos”

  1. […] find yourself alongside the Millennium Drago Tree, the Malvasía Museum and the butterfly farm of Icod de Los Vinos and the last thing you expect to see is a tea shop that […]

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