What Is a Porrón?

A glass porron filled with wine

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If you've ever enjoyed a meal at a Spanish tapas restaurant, you know that a big part of the fun comes from the communal spirit of sharing food with a group of tablemates. The Spanish also created a unique way to extend that communal spirit to the sharing of wine as well as food. The unique vessel is called a porrón.

What Is a Porrón?

A porrón is a glass pitcher of Catalonian origin with a narrow spout that can be used for pouring wine into a glass, or—and this is where the fun comes in—directly into your (or someone else's) mouth. The trick is that touching the spout with your mouth is strictly a no-no. In this way, the porrón can be passed from person to person at the table, allowing everyone to share the wine without also sharing germs.

How to Use a Porrón

It takes some practice to be able to drink from a porrón without spilling wine all over your face, your clothes, and the rug beneath your feet. But since the porrón is designed to shoot out a very narrow stream of wine, it's mainly a matter of anticipating where that stream will go and positioning your open mouth at that location.

Expert users can be identified by the reckless manner in which they extend their arms above their faces while drinking, thereby increasing the length of the stream of wine as well as the amount of excitement experienced by onlookers. 

If someone brings a porrón to a party, here's what to do:

  1. Hold the porrón in front of you at or a little below chest level. Grasp the neck of the porrón with one hand, keeping your elbow bent. Make sure the spout is facing you.
  2. Lift the porrón with one hand, so that the spout is just above your mouth, a few inches from your lips. Inserting the spout into the mouth cavity, even if it doesn't touch anything, is considered bad form. 
  3. Now, tilt your head back, with your mouth open, and tip the porrón toward you. A stream of wine will flow toward your mouth. If you're lucky, some of it might even go in!
  4. You might find it helpful to jut your jaw forward slightly to help catch some of the wine. Also, since you need to keep your mouth open while pouring, you'll need to swallow with your mouth open, as well as breathe through your nose throughout, all of which may take some getting used to.
  5. When you're ready to stop the flow, bend your arm and lower the porrón as you right it. Keep your mouth open to catch any drops of wine. Now you're ready to pass it to the next drinker.

You could always put on an apron or hold a kitchen towel under your chin to catch the drops. But such fastidiousness seems wholly incompatible with the spirit of heedless daring that the porrón seems to encourage. For a truly authentic Catalonian experience, try saying the words "Gregorio Gregorito" while the stream of wine hits the back of your throat.

What Is Served in a Porrón?

A porrón is traditionally used to drink wine. The type of wine is completely up to you since the flavor isn't really the point. However, the lighter the wine, the less likely it is to stain your clothes.

In truth, the porrón is very much like an extremely fancy beer bong for wine. For that matter, you could drink beer from a porrón. Or even vodka, which has the infinite advantage of not staining, but could lead to a sloppy party quickly. You might want to stay away from sangria, though, as the fruit will clog the spout.

Does a Porrón Make Wine Taste Better? 

At this point you might be wondering, is this actually a good way to drink wine? If you're accustomed to swishing a sip of wine around in your mouth before swallowing it to let it interact with your taste buds, well, this does not happen with a porrón. With a porrón, it's just straight down the hatch. 

Indeed, it seems like the most effective technique with a porrón is to bypass your taste buds altogether and simply direct the stream of wine at the back of your throat. As such, it is perhaps the worst way to consume wine if your goal is to savor it and appreciate its subtle notes. George Orwell likened it to drinking from a chamberpot. 

Does a porrón aerate the wine? Does it add effervescence to sparkling wines? Does it in any way improve the wine? Who cares? You're literally pouring it down your throat, as well as all over your chest and your face. Don't overthink it! The truth is, a porrón probably serves no legitimate purpose other than fun and enhancing the communal spirit.

How to Clean and Store a Porrón

It's best to soak a porrón in warm, soapy water after use to loosen any residue from the wine. A bottle brush can be used to scrub the inside. Wine decanter tablets can also be used for tougher stains. Once your porrón is clean and dry, store it in a safe place where it will have plenty of room without being touched until you're ready to use it. The thin spout can be broken if jostled too much.