I love Rioja. We go through wine phases around here, jumping from country to country, varietal to varietal. For over ten years now, we've been serial wine monogamists, settling on a "house wine" and buying case after case, until we find a new love.
For the past six or so months, that wine has been a Rioja called Montebuena. Everyone who drinks it likes it - and it is seriously inexpensive. Plus, it's a screw top which means that, yes, some of the pomp and circumstance around opening the bottle is missing. But it's a whole lot easier to deal with mid-party.
I love history, too - especially when it involves tales of wine counterfeiting and general intrigue. Unsurprisingly, this short lesson about the origins of the gold wire on bottles of Rioja, from Vine Pair, had me fascinated.
Montebuena doesn't mess with the wires but more than a few fancier Riojas have rotated through our wine cellar at one point or another. I always assumed the wires were a holdover from the olden days - but I hadn't thought about why. Short answer: to prevent counterfeiters from gaining access to the bottle.
And isn't it just like 18th century Europeans to create an anti-counterfeiting measure that sparkles?