Tag Archives: spanish rioja

Meet Spain’s rockstar winemaker, Alvaro Palacios

1 May

It’s hot in the city, chicos y chicas.

Los Angeles is sweatin’ through a heatwave, but last night the epitome of cool happened at The Wine House in Los Angeles.  Alvaro Palacios, the winemaker credited with revolutionizing Spain’s wine industry, made his first–and possibly only–visit to the City of Angels.

Alvaro Palacios (left) talks to a fan as one of The Wine House's partners looks on.

Alvaro Palacios (left) talks to a fan as one of The Wine House’s partners looks on.

Palacios was named “Winemaker of the Year” in 2003 by Wine Enthusiast magazine, and he’s won the Critics Choice Award four times from The Wine Spectator. Accompanied by his lovely wife and all-star Folio PR team, Palacios rocked the Wine House in style. Lucky wine lovers and yours truly got to sample six vinos fantásticos.

And el Señor Palacios made certain that his wines were served in the appropriate stemware. Each attendee was handed a Bordeaux glass and a Burgundy glass, which made it a balancing act when you add a little plate of queso and charcuterie, but there are worse problems, trust me.

Cheese and charcuterie with a glass of 100 percent Viura.

Cheese and charcuterie with a glass of 100 percent Viura.

All six wines were amazing, but here are the three that rocked my palate:

2009 Bodegas Palacios Herencia Remondo Rioja Blanco Placet Valtomelloso. This lovely, crisp white wine is 100 percent Viura grapes. Lovely white florals, a touch of almond and peaches. Pair it with tapas, seafood, and tortilla española, of course! The wine retails for $27.99.


2011 Descendientes de Jose Palacios Pétalos del Bierzo. If you love violets, blueberries and a hint of black pepper, this elegant, 95 percent Mencia blend is for you. Pair it with roasted chicken or enjoy it on its own! The Wine House sells it for $17.99. Stock up! And no, they didn’t pay me to say that.


2010 Bodegas Palacios Herencia Remondo Rioja Propriedad. A sip of this wine is like a trip to the candy store for grownups. You’ll get cocoa and licorice and luscious black fruit. This is your go-to wine for paella, grilled meat and rich, triple-cream cheeses. Propriedad retails for $29.99.

Alvaro Palacios may not be coming to your town anytime soon, but don’t despair – you can do an online search on any of the wines above to see if your local wine shop carries them. So whip up  some tapas, dish out the paella and enjoy the fruits of el Señor Palacios’ labor. ¡Salud!


Love story–wines and foods of Latin America

16 Feb

 “Where love is concerned, too much is not even enough.”

–  Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais (1732-1799)

In my world, too much Valentine’s Day is not enough. Maybe I’m a sucker for love, or maybe I’m just looking for an excuse to eat chocolate all day long. Regardless, I thought I’d spread the amor by sharing my experience providing wine pairings for a pre-Valentine’s fiesta this past Sunday.  The passionate affair between Latin American foods and the wines that adore them is like a sweeping romantic drama I never get sick of watching. So dim the lights, grab a box of bonbons, and find out what happens when a spicy dish meets a suave Latin American.

The Prologue

It all started with those randy Spanish conquistadores, who had the insight to bring the grapevine to the Americas. The Spaniards had a winemaking tradition dating back to the Roman Empire, circa 210 B.C. Fast forward to modern times, circa four days ago. A macho Spanish Rioja falls in lust with a picante Latin version of an American classic: beef sliders with potatoes in a creamy jalapeño cilantro sauce. The result is nothing short of explosive.

 A splash of 2009 Aspaldi Rioja Cosecha with jalapeño beef sliders. ¡Caliente!

Scene 1: Peru and Uruguay – a mouthwatering match

So this saucy Peruvian dish walks into a bar and collides with a crisp Uruguayan. Her name: Tallarín Verde. Chicas y chicos, this is the stuff telenovelas are made of. In case you’re wondering, the Uruguayan is none other than a 2010 Pisano Torrontes Rio de los Pájaros from Progreso, Uruguay. The reason these two are such a good match: The crisp acidity of the wine harmonizes with the rich, cheesy sauce of tallarín verde, or ‘green spaghetti.’ This classic Peruvian pasta dish features a creamy basil sauce that’s heavy on the garlic and cheese. Two words: Qué sexy.

Scene 2: It takes two to tango

The plot thickens: Red wine and chocolate become Latin lovers in the form of chicken mole tacos and an Argentine Malbec. Call them Latin America’s sweethearts. The reason they work well is that the spice of the mole sauce matches the spicy notes in the Malbec. Tango Trivia Time: The smoldering dance was born in the poorer neighborhoods of Buenos Aires. Fittingly, you don’t have to marry a millionaire to be able to afford this 2008 Flichman Malbec Tupungato, a steal at $15.99.

If this tall, dark and handsome Malbec asks you to tango, say ¡Sí!

Scene 3: Chile verde and Chilean Chardonnay meet cute

Chile verde. Wine from Chile. Irresistible, especially when you add a sweet cream corn sauce. The smooth, buttery flavor of the 2010 Chateau Los Boldos Cuvée Tradition Chardonnay complements the creaminess of the sauce. ¡Qué romántico!

Happy Ending: Red Velvet Cake falls for an Italian 

How could anyone not fall in love with Brachetto, a salmon-pink, sweet Italian sparkling wine? Rumor has it that this was the beverage of choice among Italian high school students back in the 80s, which makes my own youthful dalliances with strawberry daiquiris sound muy cheesy by comparison. Brachetto is a hit at all the pairings Señorita Vino has recently created, so hurry on over to your local wine shop for a bottle of Sant Orsola Brachetto d’Acqui. That’s amore!

Stay for the Credits:

All of the wines featured in this post were purchased by Señorita Vino at Total Wine and Spirits in Redondo Beach, Calif. Total Wine is a national retailer with an extensive selection of wines from all over the world. Look them up online to find the nearest location.

The delectable dishes mentioned were the creative genius of Art Rodriguez, who with his partner Stephen Chavez are co-founders of LatinoFoodie.com. They graciously invited Señorita Vino to select wines for the food tasting menu at their first-ever My Foodie Valentine party. ¡Besos, muchachos!

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