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Thursday, July 03, 2008

Anniversary of the Derrame del vino

Statue depicting the Derrame del Vino in Garachico

The Derrame del Vino is an event that took place on the night of July 3rd, 1666. It's when local wine producers poured gallons of Malmsey wine down the drain in Garachico in protest over ruinous prices driven by the British monopoly of the sector. There's even a statue to celebrate putting those dastardly Brits in their place along the sea front road in the town. Portugal's independence from Castile; Charles II's marriage to Catherine of Braganza, which favoured trade with Madeira at the Canary Islands' cost; as well as the creation, in 1665, in London of The Canary Island Company, establishing a British monopoly over the Canarian wine trade in England, are all events that conspired to to provoke this reaction in Tenerife.

On that night, around 300 to 400 masked men broke down the doors of the bodegas and destroyed the barrels, spilling the wine - rather than sell it for low prices - and causing "one of the strangest floods in world history", wrote historian, José de Viera y Clavijo.

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