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August 28, 2014

Spanish/Portugal Wine and Food Dinner

Spain is the 3rd largest producer of wine in the world covering over a million acres. The wines are usually less expensive than the wines found next door in France and they pair very well with a variety of foods, both spicy and sweet.

Though there are hundreds of grape varietals in Spain, the highest quality wines holding the top label honor come from the DOC designated regions of Rioja and Priorat. Fortunately our most recent wine dinner focused heavily on the reds from Rioja, each being paired with a wonderful Spanish tapa.

As is our usual custom we began the evening with a sparkling wine. Cava, Spain’s most popular sparkling wine is made in much the same way as Champagne. The unique qualities of this wine come from three distinctly different grapes. Macabeu is the primary grape used in Cava production. According to Wine Folly, "Macabeu tastes somewhat simple. It has faint floral aromatics, a lemony flavor with a slightly bitter finish that tastes similar to green almonds. Xarel•lo (sounds like ‘Cheryl-ooh’) on the other hand, is much more aromatic with rich floral aromas and pear/melon-like notes. The last grape, Paralleda, is blended for its ripping high acidity and zesty citrus flavors. Together the three Spanish grapes create a balanced fruity sparkling wine that’s less sweet than Prosecco but not as nutty as Vintage Champagne."

The Cava was paired with Smoked Salmon canapés with capers and cream cheese.

In keeping with a Spanish food and wine theme, the next tapa was a Chorizo, Manchego and Membrillo (guince paste)grilled sandwiche. Quince looks and taste like a cross between a pear and an apple and makes a wonderful jam, used in this recipe to tame the heat in the chorizo.
The sandwiches were served with Vina Eguia Reserva 2007 from Rioja, Spain. This wine has a bright, ruby red color, with complex flavors of vanilla, spice and aromatic herbs that pair well with the sweet and heat in the sandwiches.

The next dish was Cod layered with ground Chorizo and Potatoes, topped with Cherry Tomatoes. The presentation was amazing and so were the flavors.

The cod was paired with a 2012 Spanish Viura Finca Cerrada that boasts of Lemon and pineapple aromas and a minerality that adds a great level of complexity and interest. This wine is easy to drink and when paired with the fish took on more intensity.

I think he was checking it out waiting for us to drop a small bite for him. I don't think that happened, poor guy.

The Piquant Cocktail Meatballs were paired with a Spanish Rioja from Muga winery. The wine had very soft tannins with a long finish. On the nose there were hints of red and black fruit, caramel and vanilla with a little oak and spice. The complexity of the wine was a good match for the meatballs accenting the herbs and spices. The meatballs were served with roasted red peppers and a tomato based dipping sauce that completed the unique flavor combinations.

The next dish was a very spicy bean dish. Although I don't have the recipe, I can tell you that the beans were cooked to a thick broth and had just the right amount of spicy rich flavor. What was interesting was the wine that was served with this dish was the same wine that was served with the next dish, Chicken Casserole with Spiced Figs and the wine worked really well with both dishes, but the dishes were so very different; the beans were spicy hot and savory while the figs gave the chicken a slightly sweet flavor that was surrounded by a very rich and delicious sauce. The wine, a 2006 Anares Reserva had just the right structure and acidity to compliment both dishes. So cool.

Moving on to Portugal.
The next dish was amazing. The pork roast was fall off the bone tender and the sauce that was served on the side was so flavorful that I could have drank it if it wasn't for the fact that it was served with a wonderful wine from Portugal so I decided to drink that instead; a Monsaraz 2012 Reserva.

This wine came straight from Portugal during a visit there this past summer. It is so wonderful to have friends who travel the world and share there delicious foods and wines. The dish was one they tried at the home of their host.

We finished the night with Ferreira Quinta Do Porto, a 10 year Port from Portugal. Wine Spectator gave it a 91, claiming that it may be their favorite 10 year Tawny Port to date. The rich dried fruit and spice flavors, with aromas of sweet chai, orange peel and dark fruits create a very well balanced style making it an excellent pairing with the "eggless" Chocolate cake. One of our wine dinner members is allergic to eggs. I wasn't sure until I tasted it and it was very impressive, quite fabulous in fact. I am still hoping for the recipe and when I get it I will pass it on to you.

Posted by terri at August 28, 2014 03:36 AM