Your New Favorite Backyard Wine Accessory: The Porrón

It looks like a cross between a decanter, a magic lamp, and a classy beer bong, but in actuality, the Spanish porrón is your new favorite way to drink wine. Head outside with some chilled Txakoli and 15 of your closest friends because wine glasses are not required for the summer’s most fun – and most delicious – backyard drinking game.

The porrón is a traditional glass pitcher found throughout Spain, most predominantly in northern areas stretching from Bilbao in Basque Country to Barcelona in Catalonia. It conveniently holds a full 750 mL bottle of wine and is used not only to store wine but to drink it. Shaped a bit like a watering can, the porrón has a skinny top that can be sealed off with a cork (and doubles as a handle when pouring) and a spout that narrows off to a very small opening, causing the wine, when poured, to shoot from the porrón in a thin stream.

You might be thinking, hmm, sounds like it would be easy to waterfall some vino directly into my mouth with this fun new party accessory! In fact, that is probably why the porrón originated; hundreds of years ago, individual glasses weren’t very economical or practical, so the porrón was a way for many people to hygienically drink out of the same vessel, since the lips never touch the glass. The exact history of the porrón is difficult to pinpoint, but it probably originated in Catalonia and has been part of traditional Spanish wine culture for hundreds of years. In northern Spain, almost anything can be “porróned” – Cava, Txakoli, sweet wine, cider, and even Rioja!

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While the porrón certainly has its critics, the most famous being novelist George Orwell, who likened the “dreadful thing called a porrón” to a bedpan, expert porróners capture the amazement of onlookers,  which is why you should definitely become one. To porrón like a pro, bring the spout close to your mouth and begin pouring, then pull the porrón away from your face without breaking the stream of wine. The further away you pour, the more respect you earn! The number one rule is to commit and have confidence – and maybe start with white wine to avoid major laundry stains.

Once you’ve mastered the basic porrón technique, the possibilities are endless – see how far away you can pour the porrón into a friend’s mouth! Or, channel the Spaniards with a porrón contest – every year, there are competitions to see who can porrón into a glass from the greatest height without spilling. Or, you could always try finding the most creative places to porrón from (the “parkour” of porróning, if you will), such as an apartment rooftop, a beach boardwalk, or, channeling these badass NYC sommeliers, even a bridge in Central Park.

The wine that is by far most associated with the porrón is Txakoli (pronounced chah-ko-lee), the young, fresh, slightly fizzy wine that has gained immense popularity in the U.S. in the past five to 10 years. Made in three distinct Txakolina regions in Basque Country along the lush northern coast of Spain, Txakoli is typically a light, acid-driven white with zingy, lip-smacking lemon flavors and tons of stony, salty minerality that conveniently make it perfect for the summertime. Less prevalent, but equally as delicious, are rosé and red versions of Txakoli, which share that same high-acid, low alcohol, effervescent character. Pouring Txakoli in the porrón’s thin stream from a greater height coaxes out the wine’s tiny bubbles, making the wine even brighter and more refreshing.

Oleo de José Benlliure Gil: 'La tertulia'.
Oleo de José Benlliure Gil: ‘La tertulia’. c. 1890

Now that you’ve got the Spanish-style tricks to be the summer’s best party host, get porróning! Practice makes perfect, so with enough time outdoors you’ll be ready to tackle the next challenge by the time September rolls around: indoor porróning – with red wine!