As you go through the process of creating your menu, which may include Tapas, Gazpacho, Zarzuela, Ceviche, Paella, Pollo á la Riojana and the like, you will most certainly want to pair them with wines from Spain. Let’s take a tour of the country and I will show you a few of my favorites and the possible food pairings to go with them.
The first stop is the northeast coast on the Mediterranean Sea to the region of Cataluña. This is the home of Cava, a sparkling wine made in the methode champenoise. These wines, mostly from Penedés area, are produced in varying degrees of dryness. A Brut wine is very popular but you may also want to try a Blanc de Blanc Brut which has more elegance or my favorite, a Rosé for a bit more flavor and color. Some of the brands of Cava you will find easily are Codorniu, Freixenet, Cristillano, Marques de Monistrol and Paul Cheneau to name a few. There are a lot of Cava producers and many smaller boutique wines available, just ask your local wine shop for them. All will go great with traditional appetizers such as seafood tapas, oysters and shrimp. $9-$20
On the northwest Atlantic coast, directly across the country from where Cava is made, you will come to the Galicia region. There you will discover Albarino, a white wine from Rias Baixas. This wine (the wine is named after the grape) at its best should have vibrant fruit flavors of apricot and peach. I prefer the Albarino’s from this appellation (One of my favorites is Martin Códax 2006) although they are made in other areas also. These stainless steel fermented wines are a bit difficult to produce but once you’ve had a good one it will forever be an entry in your cellar. It is a perfect match with white fish and shellfish. Around $10-$12
Moving inland we visit the region of Castilla y Léon where in the area of Rueda we find a gem of a white wine, Las Brisas 2005 from Bodegas Naia. You may want to give this wine a couple of minutes to open up. Once it does, its flavors will gel into a beautiful and silky wine with mango and spicy citrus flavors. This is a fun and exciting wine – perfect for a by the glass selection or a cocktail wine because of its ability to please without food, but, to really enjoy it match it up with your favorite crustacean! $10
In search of red wines we go slightly north and east to the region of Aragon and we go to Campo de Borja area, a relatively unknown area just south of the massively popular (and justifiably so) regions of La Rioja and Navarra. Here we find Bodegas Borsao which produces their red wine, Borsao 2004. Borsao is a carefully chosen blend of 75% Garnacha and 25% Tempranillo. The grapes are vinified separately and blended together to make this full bodied and finely textured wine. An elegant and rich wine for the money. This wine is a great compliment to lamb, rabbit, duck and dishes with the Rioja style sauce “Fritada”. $8
Just north is the region of Navarra. In the Valdizahre Valley among the foothills of the Pyrennes lies the vineyards of Bodegas Nekeas. They produce one of my favorite red wines Vega Sindoa Cabernet Sauvignon/Tempranillo 2004. The cabernet for the blend is grown at 1500 feet in red clay and the tempranillo grown at a higher altitude in white clay. The wine is the creation of Concha Vecino, she is one of Spain’s most highly acclaimed winemakers. As you start your exploration of this wine you will notice its deep purple color and be greeted by a full and spicy nose. Once tasted, you will indulge yourself in the flavors of dark berries, chocolate and ripe fruit with a silky finish that lasts all the way until your next taste. I love this wine! I suggest it with lamb and beef dishes but don’t be afraid to match it with some Aged Manchego or Cabrales cheese.
Moving all the way south on the Atlantic side of the peninsula we find the Jerez area where you may want to try an Oloroso Sherry. A rich, dark and full bodied wine that should not be sweet and is intense on the palate with a long dry finish. Best paired with cheese or olives. Some of the better producers are Lustau, Domecq and Osborne.
I hope you have enjoyed your tour of a few of Spain’s many wine regions. Have fun creating your culinary matches to these and other great and affordable Spanish wines.