Tag Archives: Spanish wine

#Food and #wine pairings for International #TempranilloDay ¡Salud!

10 Nov

Chicas y chicos, today is International Tempranillo Day, and we’re gonna hop into the Vino Time Machine for this “Mucho Gusto” post from a couple years ago that will give you everything you need to know about Tempranillo. ¡Salud!

My favorite wine anecdote is one I could share during one of those silly business “icebreakers” where you have to tell a group of complete strangers your most embarrassing moment. I was talking vino at a party with some people I’d just met and I mentioned a Tempranillo I had tried at a new tapas bar that had opened nearby. Being a Latina, I pronounced the word “tapas” with a native Spanish accent.

I started getting uncomfortable looks from the others, and finally one of them cleared his throat and said, “Um, you go to topless bars?”

For the record, I do not, but if you ever find yourself at a Spanish-themed topless bar–or at a restaurant with an eclectic wine list–here’s all you need to know about Tempranillo.

15Rioja_Tempranillo Day InfoGraphic.indd

Image courtesy of Rioja Wine.

HOLA, ME LLAMO: Tempranillo, a red wine, gets its name from the Spanish word temprano, which means early (the grape ripens early). Depending on where you are, Tempranillo goes by a host of aliases: Cencibel, Ull de Lliebre, Tinto del País or Tinto del Toro in other regions of Spain; Tinta Roriz or Tinta Aragones in Portugal; and Tempranilla in Argentina.

MY ROOTS: Tempranillo’s birthplace is the Rioja region of Spain, but some folks think that it was brought there by French monks who were making the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. Tempranillo is the core grape of red Rioja wines, where it’s often blended with Garnacha. It’s also one of the main red grapes in Ribera del Duero, where it’s been used for more than 100 years at the prestigious Vega Sicilia winery. Today, Tempranillo is grown in Mexico, California, Italy, Argentina, Australia and South Africa.

ALL ABOUT ME: If you like cherry and plum on the palate, you’ll enjoy Tempranillo. Grapes that were grown in iron-rich soil may show some iron-mineral notes. When it’s aged, Tempranillo displays beautiful caramel, tobacco and tea leaf aromas. This is a dry wine with medium tannins, medium alcohol and medium to high acidity.

FOODS I LOVE: Break out the jamón serrano and the chorizo. Tempranillo is dreamy with a charcuterie plate, and if you happen to be at a tapas bar, it’s a great match for croquetas (ham croquettes), meatballs in tomato sauce and pinches (lamb or pork kabobs). Tempranillo is also tasty with roasted lamb and Indian food.

DO TRY THIS AT HOME: A bottle of Tempranillo can cost anywhere from $10 to $300. Some budget-friendly wines worth trying include: Luis Alegre Koden 2011, Sancho Barón 2009, Lar de Sotomayor Vendimia Seleccoinada 2010, and from Mexico, Alximia Alma 2012.

Something to ponder as you sip your next glass of Tempranillo: You can enjoy Tempranillo and still keep your top on, while getting your tapas on.

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Happy International #Sherry Week! 8 Fun facts for #isherryweek

4 Jun

Sherry’s not just for grannies anymore, chicas y chicos. It’s so popular they’ve given it its own week, June 2-8. Here’s all you need to know about Sherry, a Spanish fortified wine from the country that gave us paella, Don Quixote and Real Madrid.

Photo credit: Caballero 1830 via Wikimedia Commons

Photo credit: Caballero 1830 via Wikimedia Commons

1. Sherry gets its name from the English, who, in the 1600s, anglicized the word, Jerez, the town in Spain where Sherry is aged and sold.

2. Sherry is what’s known as a fortified wine, in other words, it starts as a base wine, and alcohol is added to it to make it stronger, or fortify it.

3. Sherry is aged in one of two ways: Sherries that are fortified to 15.5 percent alcohol develop a cap of yeast called a flor, which protects the wine from exposure to air. Sherries that are fortified to 17 percent or higher are too strong for the flor to form, so they are exposed to air and will develop a darker color.

4. There are only three grape varieties allowed in Jerez to make Sherry: Palomino, Pedro Ximenez (also known as PX), and Muscat of Alexandria.

5. Sherry can be sweet or dry, depending on the grapes used. Dry Sherries are made with the Palomino grape, while naturally sweet Sherries are made with PX or Muscat. Blended Sherries are medium-dry or semi-sweet, and are a combination of a naturally sweet Sherry with a dry style.

6. If the label says Fino, Manzanilla, Amontillado, Oloroso or Palo Cortado, it will be  a dry Sherry.

7.  A Fino Sherry gets its bread dough aromas from the flor.  Olorosos smell like a spicy, nutty toffee bar, while PX is packed with coffee and dried fruit aromas.

8. Pair Manzanilla and Fino with olives, nuts and Jamón Serrano. Amontillado is your best bet for spicy dishes, and if you like your food like your men (or women)–rich and sweet–PX is heavenly with dark chocolate, ice cream or blue cheese.

A glass of Manzanilla Sherry. Photo credit: Matt Saunders via Wikimedia Commons.

A glass of Manzanilla Sherry. Photo credit: Matt Saunders via Wikimedia Commons.

And because I love you so much, here’s a cocktail recipe you can make with Sherry, courtesy of the fine folks at the soon-to-open Washington, D.C. restaurant, Tico:

P90X

This spin on the Manhattan uses Sherry instead of vermouth.

INGREDIENTS:

2 oz Bulliet Rye
3/4 oz Pedro Xemenez Sherry
2 dashes of Angostura bitters
2 Dashes of Orange Bitters

METHOD:

Stir, and serve up in a martini glass or coupe.

¡Salud!

 

¡Mucho Gusto! Get to know Tempranillo

29 May

My favorite wine anecdote is one I could share during one of those silly business “icebreakers” where you have to tell a group of complete strangers your most embarrassing moment. I was talking vino at a party with some people I’d just met and I mentioned a Tempranillo I had tried at a new tapas bar that had opened nearby. Being a Latina, I pronounced the word “tapas” with a native Spanish accent.

I started getting uncomfortable looks from the others, and finally one of them cleared his throat and said, “Um, you go to topless bars?”

For the record, I do not, but if you ever find yourself at a Spanish-themed topless bar–or at a restaurant with an eclectic wine list–here’s all you need to know about Tempranillo.

tempranillo
HOLA, ME LLAMO: Tempranillo, a red wine, gets its name from the Spanish word temprano, which means early (the grape ripens early). Depending on where you are, Tempranillo goes by a host of aliases: Cencibel, Ull de Lliebre, Tinto del País or Tinto del Toro in other regions of Spain; Tinta Roriz or Tinta Aragones in Portugal; and Tempranilla in Argentina.

MY ROOTS: Tempranillo’s birthplace is the Rioja region of Spain, but some folks think that it was brought there by French monks who were making the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. Tempranillo is the core grape of red Rioja wines, where it’s often blended with Garnacha. It’s also one of the main red grapes in Ribera del Duero, where it’s been used for more than 100 years at the prestigious Vega Sicilia winery. Today, Tempranillo is grown in Mexico, California, Italy, Argentina, Australia and South Africa.

ALL ABOUT ME: If you like cherry and plum on the palate, you’ll enjoy Tempranillo. Grapes that were grown in iron-rich soil may show some iron-mineral notes. When it’s aged, Tempranillo displays beautiful caramel, tobacco and tea leaf aromas. This is a dry wine with medium tannins, medium alcohol and medium to high acidity.

FOODS I LOVE: Break out the jamón serrano and the chorizo. Tempranillo is dreamy with a charcuterie plate, and if you happen to be at a tapas bar, it’s a great match for croquetas (ham croquettes), meatballs in tomato sauce and pinches (lamb or pork kabobs). Tempranillo is also tasty with roasted lamb and Indian food.

DO TRY THIS AT HOME: A bottle of Tempranillo can cost anywhere from $10 to $300. Some budget-friendly wines worth trying include: Luis Alegre Koden 2011, Sancho Barón 2009, Lar de Sotomayor Vendimia Seleccoinada 2010, and from Mexico, Alximia Alma 2012.

Something to ponder as you sip your next glass of Tempranillo: You can enjoy Tempranillo and still keep your top on, while getting your tapas on.

¡Salud!

 

Vino 101: Why pair food with #wine?

22 May

We’ve all heard the so-called rules about food and wine pairing, including the classic “red wine with red meat, white wine with fish.” If you’ve been reading Señorita Vino for some time, you may recall that I’m a proud member of the “reglas are made to be broken” camp.

But on Monday, a friend who claims to know nothing about wine asked me, “So, why pair food with wine?”

Usually I’m asked how to pair food and wine, but this was the first time I’ve ever been asked why. In response, here are the three reasons I think food and wine pairing is a good idea. If you have other suggestions, bring ’em on!

Barsha

 

1. Wine can make your food taste better. Ever bitten into a wedge of rich, creamy Brie and loved it so much you could eat the whole wheel? I did that once in college and I don’t recommend it, but I digress. The point is that sometimes too much of a good thing is, well, too much. But if you’re having that creamy cheese with a glass of crisp, acidic Chablis, the wine helps balance the richness of the cheese.

2. Food can make your wine taste better. I’m a huge fan of in-your-face, bold red wines, but I know for some people, those gripping tannins pack a bit too much pucker power. Enter the juicy, meaty hunka-hunka-burnin’ love steak. The voluptuous, fatty fabulousness in the meat binds with the tannins in your Cabernet Sauvignon, taming the rough texture of the wine and rendering it as smooth as seda.

3. Wine and food pairing broadens your palate’s horizons. Say you’re a Chardonnay Chica (or a Merlot Man) at a Spanish tapas bar. Chances are, you’re going to find a lot of Spanish vinos on the wine list, and maybe none that you recognize. Your server may recommend a Viura instead of a Chardonnay, or a Garnacha-Tempranillo blend as a Merlot alternative. And just like that, you’ve discovered a new wine.

AlpineArrival

So go forth and experiment, chicas y chicos. Enjoy that carne asada with a Barolo! Nosh on those nachos with a Gruner Veltliner! Savor the spicy chicken tikka masala with a Riesling! Most of all, have fun with it. And whatever you do, don’t eat the whole wheel of Brie.

¡Salud!

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.

Petalos

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.

Propriedad

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!

 

Focus on #Spanish #Wine: Garnacha

11 Dec

Wondering what wine to give to the vino lovers on your holiday gift list? Wonder no more, chicas y chicos. Add some international flavor to your wine gift-giving and consider Garnacha, Spain’s food-loving red wine.

Photo credit: Seth Anderson, Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Photo credit: Seth Anderson, Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 2.0 Generic license.

All you need to know about Garnacha, including some recommended labels, is featured in  my latest article for Latina magazine’s TheLatinKitchen.com, “What Wine Where: Garnacha.” Flamenco dancers optional.

Until next week, ¡Salud!

Six sensational Spanish #wines you’ve never heard of

7 Nov

Tired of Tempranillo? Had your fill of Rioja? Whether the answer is or no, Señorita Vino believes that variety is the spice of life, which is why I’d like to introduce you to six off-the-grid Spanish wines I think you’ll enjoy.

Read all about them in my latest article for Latina magazine’s TheLatinKitchen.com.

DSC_1342

Spain produces some fabulous, quality wines for a fraction of what you’d pay for similar wines from other countries. So if you’re looking for an excuse to throw a tapas party–or if you’re in the mood for something new, now’s your chance to go for it without breaking the bank.

MENCIA

My personal fave was Mencía, a gorgeous red with luscious plum and cherry aromas, rounded out with candied violet notes. Pour yourself a glass, pile on the jamón serrano, queue up an Almodóvar flick and call it a relaxing night en casa.

¡Salud!

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