The great Julia Child once said: “Wine is meant to be with food – that’s the point of it.”
Well Julia, myself and Neven couldn’t agree with you more, which is why once a month while Neven cooks up some inspiration for family and friend celebrations, I’ll be suggesting wines to pair with it.
I’m delighted Neven has kicked off the series with Spanish recipes as it allows me chat about one of my favourite white wines, Albariño.
I visited Rías Biaxas in the Galicia area of north Spain a few years ago and it struck me that if Ireland was a wine-producing country, it would look and feel like this area where the Albariño grape grows. Small plots of family farms sit on rocky cliffs and as a wine-producing area, it has one of the highest levels of rainfall in the world. You wouldn’t go far wrong calling it Galway instead of Galicia. The result is a fresh wine with citrus flavours and a fresh pop of acidity while the mist from the Atlantic adds a little saltiness.
It’s often said that food and wine from the same area pair beautifully which is why I’m also keeping it Spanish with the red Tempranillo grape. We head inland to Rioja – an area surrounded by jagged mountains that prevent clouds hanging over the valley. These hot sunny days result in big, bold wines with flavours of cherries and berries and a long finish. It’s a food friendly wine and you’ll often see the Spanish sipping red with their paella.
Nai e Señora
Simply Better at Dunnes Stores | €15
Albariño is known as a young and fruity wine but that doesn’t always give it the credit it deserves. Case in point is this Nai e Señora. Yes, it’s got that crisp, fresh taste and yes, it has zingy citrus flavours of lemon and grapefruit. However, it is elevated by rich herbaceous notes which continues from the nose to the mouthfeel. This is complimented by stone fruit flavours, especially peach. With a touch of minerality and a dry finish, this is a great seafood match.
Finca de Arantei
thewinebuff.com | €19.99
In Galicia, many small part-time farmers supply the vineyards with their grapes. So this wine is slightly unusual as the grapes come from one vineyard. Their philosophy is because they are controlling the quality of the grapes, they produce high-quality wine at a reasonable price. The result is in the glass. Bright apple and stone fruit flavours with plenty of minerality and a touch of white spice resulting in a crisp long finish. It can carry a bit of spice so it will work equally well with the piri piri prawns or the chorizo.
Campo Viejo Tempranillo
Centra | €12.50. On special offer at €8 from 9-12 Sept
While Riojas can be big and bold, we didn’t want to go too heavy with the reds. Campo Viejo is a great example of a young fruity Rioja. From one of the leading wineries in the area, this wine has flavours of red fruit and vanilla with a touch of oak, resulting in a medium bodied wine with a smooth velvety texture, a perfect pairing with poultry. A little tip, chill it for a few minutes before serving to really bring out the flavours.
La Rioja Alta Vina Alberdi Reserva
Celtic Whiskey Shop | €21.50
We’re taking things up a notch with this beautifully smooth Alta Vina Alberdi Reserva. This is very deserving of its Reserva status, the second highest quality status of Spanish wines. To be labelled Reserva, the wine must be aged for three years, with at least one year in casks. Good winemakers go above and beyond and this is aged for two years in American oak casks. The result is ripe black cherry flavours with a hint of jammy strawberries, a touch of sweet caramel and a lovely subtle spice which will work beautifully with some good-quality chorizo.