Traveling From Home with Spanish Wine

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Note: I wrote this Spanish wine post eight weeks ago when the world was a different place and it was about entertaining friends with a night of Spanish food and wine.

Things have changed but I’ve been inspired by people using their time at home to get back to cooking classic meals and experimenting with flavours. I decided to publish this to inspire you with flavours of Spain.

The first time I drank Spanish wine I was in Spain. And I don’t say that to brag, in fact it’s the opposite.

Why did it take me so long to discover wine from Spain?

But in a way perhaps it was best because I learned about wine with Spaniards. More importantly I learned about entertaining and spending time with friends and family.

#1 Rule: It should not be stressful

In Spain food and wine are just the backdrop to enjoying life. It’s not about the perfect wine pairing it’s more about who they are sharing it with.

It is about enjoying time with the people you love instead of stressing out in the kitchen.
 
 

 
Ayngelina with red wine and spanish ham jamon in Girona Spain
Jamon and Spanish wine in Girona

It was in Spain that I really started to appreciate wine. I first toured Logroño before a wine conference where I was to speak about the storytelling in wine.

I was so nervous because there were master sommeliers and wine critics and little ole me.

We tasted some of the best of the regions wine, listened to the fermentation and NO ONE there was stuffy.

Despite being some of the most accomplished people in the wine world they were also the most unpretentious.

When I spilled a glass of wine after hours of tastings they simply yelled “Opa!” Inspired by the Greek sommeliers also in the group.

And when I admitted I didn’t know what corked wine tasted like, they were delighted they could take the corked glass I had and give me a new uncorked version so I would learn it indeed tastes like wet newspaper.

Later on I visited Girona and many other wine regions in Spain and what remained consistent was the easy going approach to wine.

That was something that changed how I entertained.
 
 

 
Ayngelina pouring wine from Spain in a glass

Cooking for Loved Ones Shouldn’t Be Difficult

Since then when I cook for people I know that it’s not only my job to provide the meal. But also, I need to be present.

I can’t be stressed out in the kitchen, I am there to be with people I love

And so I have three rules I always follow:

  1. Create a fun but simple theme
  2. Give people an opportunity to learn without being pretentious
  3. Make everything in advance only needing to assemble that day

This is why I love a Spanish theme, it ticks all the boxes. While people know a bit about Cava and perhaps about Rioja, there is SO much more to learn.

From the mountains of Priorat to the soil in Costa Brava, Spanish wine can be quite diverse.
 
 

 
Spanish cava toast with two women
My mother only likes getting her photo taken from the wrist up!

But there’s one thing Spanish wine isn’t  – and that’s fussy. I have found it’s an easy way to win over people, many are afraid to try new wines so I like to pick one they know and two they don’t.

In this case I have paired 3 different wines from Spain that I personally love. And they are all between $14-25 at the LCBO, which is convincing enough for them to try it again.

Inspired by many meals I had in Spain and the art of tapas, I’m also sharing how to make food stress free – and focus on being present.

These Spanish wine and food pairings are fun and it won’t take you all day before you can sit down and enjoy.

 
 
 

A Note on Stemware

I like to keep things relaxed. I spent so much time in little spots in Spain where wine was often served in tumbler glasses. Spaniards aren’t as high maintenance, and stressing over wine glasses isn’t something they do.

I really like stemless wine glasses because:

  1. If people don’t know much about wine they feel more comfortable.
  2. There is less opportunity for spilling.

At times I also keep clean stemware out on the counter in the kitchen for anyone who likes to swirl, sniff and sip their wine. Fortunately, that doesn’t exist in my family.
 
 

 
Spanish cava paired with oysters

Cava + Oysters

Cava is one of the most versatile wines to pair with food. It’s one of the few that can hold up to spring vegetables like asparagus or wild ramps or even creamy sauces.

It’s also a great way to greet people at the door, everyone likes a bit of bubbles.

Cava is my favourite type of sparkling wine because it’s priced similarly to Italian Prosecco yet it is made more similarly to French Champagne but is often a lighter style and less acidic.

Most Cava is made in Catalonia, in northeastern Spain usually using Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo grapes.

I love Cava and oysters, the fresh clean flavour is a perfect wine pairing with briny oysters.

Growing up in Nova Scotia, it’s more common to have oysters at home (here’s a quick video on how to shuck oysters) – as long as you don’t pick Malpeques as they are a bit more difficult.

And if you have vegetarian in your family charred shishito peppers, known as padron peppers in Spain, are a great pairing as well. But be careful because they say 1 in 20 are fiery hot.

I found these great stemless sparkling flutes which I love. I have never been a fan of sparkling glasses – either the coupe or the long flute. These are perfect no fuss cava glasses.

You’ll Love Cava if…

You love bubbles and want a high quality sparkling for a fantastic price.

Stars Brut Nature Reserva Cava, $16.95 
 
 

 
Spanish wine bottle and glasses with table of cured meats, cheese and fruit

Crianza + Charcuterie

You can buy a meat and cheese board or it’s easy to make one yourself with high quality ingredients.

If you choose typical Spanish foods you cannot go wrong: Iberico ham, Manchego cheese, dried apricots, almonds, chorizo, olives and preserves. 

I also create a separate vegetarian platter to be kind to people who do not want their food touching some of the delicious Spanish meat…more for me!

Crianza is a blended wine from the Rioja Spain, a Denominacion de Origen Calificada region where the production production, quality and taste must be approved for a series of strict regulations.

The grape most commonly used is Tempranillo.

All aging is done at the winery to maintain quality. Even if it is bottle aged, it is done at the winery before the wine is shipped.

You can find four types of wine:

  • Rioja – aged less than a year
  • Crianza – aged for at least two years
  • Reserva – aged for at least three years
  • Gran Reserva – barrel aged for at least 2 years and in the bottle for at least three years.

I love a good Crianza because it’s a light red that pairs well with so many foods – especially a meat and cheese board.

It has more body than a merlot. It is aged a minimum of one year in an oak barrel and has notes of red fruit.

You’ll Love Crianza if…

You like light bodied red wine.

Marqués de Cáceres Crianza 2014, $16.95
 
 

 
Spanish wine bottle and wine in glasses alongside a Spanish stew.

Monastrell + Spanish Beef Stew

Stews are perfect for entertaining because they always taste better the next day. Spain is home to so many great braised meat dishes and this one uses the wine that I’m serving.

It’s an easy trick to know that the two will pair well together.

Although it seems like a beef stew would be heavy, I find people do like something a bit hearty when drinking wine. I serve it in small portions with great bread and people almost always come for seconds.

If you have vegetarians in your family, a separate stew substituting umami rich mushrooms and white beans or lentils is a great match.

MAKE IT AT HOME: Spanish Beef Stew

Monastrell is a lesser known Spanish red wine grape variety. It is from the Alicante, Jumilla, Almansa and Yecla regions in Spain, along the Mediterranean coast.

It is a rich, full bodied wine that has notes of black fruits (blueberry, blackberry or plum) with a rich flavour that pairs so well with meats, game or dark chocolate.

In fact it’s a great wine to pair with a hamburger or for a barbecue. It’s fantastic with a strong cheddar. I think it’s one of the most undervalued wines in Spain.

It’s used as a blending grape as well and actually gives the Cava rose sparkling wine its pink hue.

You’ll Love Monastrell if…

You’re a fan of bold reds with medium tannins like cabernet sauvignon.

Alceño 12 Meses Monastrell 2014, $15.95

If you have a favourite Spanish wine that I haven’t mentioned let me know in the comments below!
 

 
 
 
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post from Wines from Spain. They asked me to create a piece of content featuring Spanish wines based on my previous experience.
 

Join the Conversation

  1. Kimberly Kaye Harris says:

    Now let’s see what delicious Spanish wines we can get here in Mexico!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Well actually a friend in Merida told me that you can get quite a bit, so no excuses not to indulge…er explore for educational purposes.

  2. I need all of these in my life! I think Cava is the only one I have tried. I loved your tips for making great food ahead of time. I am so much more of a baker than a cook and more than once I have been stressed in the kitchen, unable to hang out with my guests.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Did you guys drink much Spanish wine in Barcelona? You must have had some red wine at your cooking class.

    2. Really interesting information about the aging process, very informative!

  3. Oh wow- these all look so good. I love cava and oysters and also the idea of small portions of beef stew with red wine but my first choice would be the charcuterie board. I love a good charcuterie board!

    Great post, you mentioned several wines I don’t know but that I’m sure I would love as I haven’t met a Spanish wine that I didn’t like!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I’m posting the beef stew recipe today…or tomorrow. But it’s a good one. My brother in law was very skeptical but in the end he liked it.

  4. Faith Coates says:

    I got used to drinking and using Spanish wine when in Andalucia and when I returned to Ireland made it a mission to continue buying what I can get hear which isn’t bad I have to say. Cava is so much better than Prosecco and I wish it was more popular but then if it was I couldn’t buy it cause it would be sold out lol

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Good point, let’s keep this secret to ourselves.

  5. Tom Bartel says:

    We lived in Spain for two years and have gone back dozens of times. The best advice, as you say, is to not stress. Drink the wine of the region, and throw in some cava when you like. And don’t forget the excellent brandies for dessert.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Tom didn’t we meet in Girona? It was SO long ago I know we talked back then but I’m pretty sure I met you two as well.

      1. Tom Bartel says:

        Yes, we did. I seem to recall there was wine involved. Perhaps we’ll run into each other again some day, if we can ever travel again. In the meantime, I’ve got a case of Rioja I’m working my way through, and a couple bottles from Bierzo, and some Priorat. I’m surprised I can type at all, as a matter of fact.

        1. Ayngelina Author says:

          hahaha! Well I am VERY jealous of that!

  6. Nart | Cooking with Nart says:

    Didn’t know much about wine so thanks so much for this post. Very useful info!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I’m so glad you liked it!

  7. Megan Indoe says:

    So interesting! I think you inspired me to put in a wine order today – I will be sure to grab some Spanish wine!!!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I think it’s a purchase you won’t regret! Tomorrow I’m posting a great stew that goes with the Monastrell.

  8. My husband travels to Spain for work and always ships a box home of different wines he picks up along the way. Allows us to experience it together and he gets to talk about his travels. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Oh you are so lucky, what a wonderful souvenir each time.

  9. I’ve been looking for a decent wine guide form someone who is really good with it, and I am glad I’ve stumbled upon your post. Such a life saver! 🙂

  10. I love wine (maybe a little too much) especially Cava – thank you for the primer on Spanish wines and most importantly the food suggestions! Can’t wait to have some friends over and try some of your suggestions!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      You can never love wine too much, at least that’s what I keep telling myself.

  11. I love spanish wine. And have definitely been drinking more than usual these days 😉 Thanks for the post! as usual really thorough and informative. going to go uncork an afternoon bottle now!

  12. Ordering the wine and waiting for the stew recipe- great post Ayngelina!

  13. Digital wine tasting is the way to go ? also, I love Spanish wines – must check what my dad has in the cellar or if I can still order some!

  14. Sunrita | Spiceitupp says:

    Wow, what a brilliant post! I have seen few of them but was never sure of the food pairings and tannings so avoided buying them apart from Cava. Now I know which once to try! Thanks so much!

  15. Im not much of a wine drinker, but this info is so great! Thank you for it, I need to start drinking wine more!

  16. Bintu | Recipes From A Pantry says:

    Thank you for the pairing information! It can be tough to know what wines to pair with what food. I do love a nice bottle of Spanish wine and I can’t wait to be able to sit with my friends and enjoy a bottle or two again.

  17. Thanks for all these tips! I love Spanish wines, and all these tips will come in super handy.

  18. So much great information! I can’t wait to try these wines!

  19. What a wonderful and thorough guide! Thank you for all the information I’ll reference this for sure !

  20. Khalil Bouhajra says:

    Great and interesting blog, thank you for sharing, keep going

  21. Carrie Robinson says:

    Such a great guide! I don’t drink Spanish wines nearly enough.

  22. I LOVE learning about wine!! I didn’t know much about Spanish wine before, so I really enjoyed this post! Thanks for sharing!

  23. Marie-Charlotte Chatelain says:

    Genius! Traveling via food and wine is all we have for now so BRING IT ON!

  24. Carmie Brogan says:

    Great post. Will definitely give these a go.

  25. Margaret VanBlarcom says:

    Love this post. So much great info … cant wait to try Cava with oysters. You make me want to run out and try all the wines. I appreciate the food pairings.
    Cheers!

  26. Spanish Cava is a favorite of mine- I agree, perfect with oysters!

  27. Wow! This is a thorough article about Spanish wine. I learned so much. There are so many wonderful ways to pair it with different recipes, or use it in cooking that I had never though of before.

  28. Jessica Formicola says:

    I think I’m going to place a wine order today! I love the idea of “traveling” while at home!

  29. Thank you so much for the tips! This is such a great guide!

  30. Margarita Ibbott @DownshiftingPRO says:

    My mouth is watering and it’s only 9:30 in the morning.

    I fell in love with Cava on my first trip to Spain 5 years ago. I love jamon iberico. You’ve inspired me to create a Spanish theme menu this weekend.

    Off to read our Spanish stew recipe.

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