The world’s biggest street event is just around the corner – the Rio Carnival. At Go Brazil, we know the excitement of Carnival well, as regular visitors to Brazil. Here we take a look at the event’s history and key features, and offer some advice on which South American party wines to choose if you want to join in the celebrations from home.
When it All Started
Carnival actually has its historic roots in the wine industry. Originally it was simply a large feast, aimed at honouring the Greek and Roman wine gods, and giving thanks for a plentiful grape harvest.
However these celebrations didn’t evolve into a full and more organised festival until 1723, while another key element in Brazil, samba music (which originated in West Africa), wasn’t introduced until 1917.
A Few Facts and Figures
Carnival – a word of Latin origin meaning ‘goodbye to meat’ – takes place every year in the five days leading up to Lent, the 40-day period of fasting which is observed in the Catholic Church’s. In 2020, it is being held on February 21-26, and two of these days (February 24 and 25) are national public holidays in Brazil. In reality, however, the partying starts in advance of the official date and continues afterwards, while many people choose to go on holiday at this time.
In total, up to 2 million people take to Rio’s streets every day to either take part in, or watch, the visual and musical extravaganza, making it what is widely believed to be the biggest street carnival in the world.
There are some ticketed events in Rio’s ‘Sambádromo’ a narrow, mile-long stadium which was specially built for the Carnival in 1984. These start late at night and go on until the early hours, and are usually televised. However, one of the main attractions of the whole festival are the smaller, more informal street events which take place around the city over the five days, and for which you don’t need a ticket.
The Samba Schools
One of the key features of the Carnival are the samba schools. These aren’t schools in the conventional sense of the world, but are more like social clubs with roots in their local neighbourhood and which include both adults and children.
Each school has a float and chooses its own theme and music, and they can either be sponsored or receive state aid to help with their displays. Many of the schools also raise money for charities and other worthy causes.
One of the reasons the Carnival is split over five days is that there are so many schools – at the last count more than 70 – and there are a number of competitions and prizes up for grabs for the best floats and displays.
It’s Not Just in Rio de Janeiro
Although Rio’s event is by far the largest, carnival events are held in all the major cities and in many of the smaller ones too. Salvador is perhaps the known, but São Paulo, Belo Horizonte, Vitoria, Recife, Olinda and Porto Seguro all play host to carnival parades.
The Ideal Wine for the Carnival
If you aren’t joining the thousands of tourists who come from all over the world to watch the festivities, then one of the best ways you can feel part of it is to drink something which is truly Brazilian.
It’s party time, so some fizz is definitely called for! Our suggestion would be to go for the gorgeously presented Malbec Rosé sparkler from Don Guerino (suitable for Valentine’s Day too?) or do as many Brazilians do, and try something sweeter such as our Sanjo Moscato. The sweetness here is balanced by a refreshing acidity, so the fizz is not sticky or cloying – and it pairs very well too with dark chocolate, meringues or fruit salad!
For those who prefer their wines still rather than sparkling, our Sinais Itálico Riesling is light and crisp, with tropical mango and stone fruit flavours. Great served chilled on its own or with canapés, vegetarian and other lighter dishes. For red lovers, we would recommend from the same range our Sinais Cabernet Sauvignon, an unoaked red which is very versatile: drink on its own or try with pizza, pasta, steaks, chicken dishes or cheese.
Come to Go Brazil for all the Best Brazilian Wine
Go Brazil don’t just stock South American party wines – we also have a wide choice of whites, reds, sweet and dessert wines as well. Recent additions to our lines include our new Premium Collection and ranges which are suitable for vegans and vegetarians.
You can see what we have in stock by visiting our online shop. (For home deliveries, the minimum order is six bottles). However if you are not sure what you want, then you can email email@example.com for friendly and knowledgeable advice.