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What Is a Porron?

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  • Written By: Megan Shoop
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 04 December 2014
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A porron is a traditional Spanish wine vessel, hailing specifically from Catalan. It is no mistake that the word, pronounced “poor-AHN,” contains the English word pour. The only purpose of the porron was for drinking wine, typically at a large table where there were many people. All porrons have two openings: one at the top, which allows the server to fill it, and a spout on the side, from which guests drink.

The balloon-shaped base of each porron is topped with a delicately fluted throat, usually closed by a cork. The extra spout on the side of the vessel usually starts about an inch (about 2 cm) from the base and projects upward at a 45° angle. The tip of this spout is almost always very narrow and may be either curved or straight.

The design of a porron is meant to eliminate the need for cups. The fluted neck typically makes it easy to grip and pass around a table, while the large bottom holds plenty of wine. The spout at the side, when tilted toward the mouth, projects a narrow stream of wine, similar to the stream of a drinking fountain. Guests have no need to put their lips on the spout, making it safe for use by multiple people.

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Drinking properly from a porron usually takes plenty of practice. One must tilt one’s head back, open one’s mouth very wide and hold the porron about 4 inches (about 8 cm) from the mouth. Tilting the spout downward toward one’s chin should stream wine directly onto the tongue, though the unpracticed my find it streaming onto their foreheads or shirt fronts instead. When finished drinking, the user must lower the narrow spout toward the mouth while simultaneously tilting the vessel upright again. Generally, only those experienced with porrons can complete this act without spilling any wine.

Though practical for usage in large groups, the porron’s messy reputation has led it to fall into disuse. Most modern Spanish restaurants prefer to use ordinary glasses and drinking cups. Some tourists may discover a few small taverns and pubs that still use porrons, mainly to entertain foreigners.

One may also be able to find these unusual vessels at thrift shops and antique stores. They typically make lovely display pieces, and might be used as an unusual vase or watering can. Some people may even use them to display wine, though pouring from the porron into a wine glass may be more practical than the traditional method.

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