Wines for la Cuesta de Enero/Uphill January

by  |  02-01-2020

To all who have survived family and the holidays, well done.

Now we arrive to the cold, murky days of January, probably broke, or at at least a bit broken. You probably don’t even want to think about alcohol the day after New Year’s Day or maybe you’re packing it in for Dry January. I’m more a fan of Dry July if in the Northern Hemisphere, but to each their own and if slimming down the boozing, may it be a longer-term change instead of an excuse to do “Wet February

For anyone who lives in a Spanish-speaking country (like uh… Spain) this period at the start of January is known as “la cuesta de enero” or roughly translated, “uphill January”. There are many reasons for this but the real core of it is that everyone is broke after the holidays given that there are essentially two gift periods of Christmas and Three Kings.

Beyond the spend and purge cycle of gift buying, it’s the start of the calendar year and all kinds of things increase in cost like heating, electricity, postal fees, trains, metros, etc. Basically, everything you actually need suddenly costs more and thus why it’s an uphill climb out of the seemingly happy pit which holiday celebrations seduced you into.

For those of us in Catalunya, to add jet fuel on to the dumpster fire that is civic government in Barcelona, they’re also rolling out a whole new metro payment system which will be more complicated and yes, cost more. Beware all ye who venture forth this year…

For all of the above as well as the constant talk of a massive recession heading our way, I think it’s time to revive the tradition I embraced in my January column for a defunct magazine in Barcelona. Each year I took the dull thud with which January lands into account and made some wine recommendations to make for a softer landing if such a thing exists. Again, if doing Dry January, I salute your efforts and come back to this in a slightly more moist February–it’s a kinda shitty month as well. Some of the wines below I picked because they’re just great value. Others because they’re engaging during a time of the year that, quite frankly, is not. I know this better than anyone as my birthday is in the middle of this poo bag of a month.

Note that as we’re at a moment of vintage changes, you may find that you need to get a newer year than what I’ve listed. But, whatever the case, I don’t expect to be canonized for my efforts here, but if something really tickled you, as always, do let me know!

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