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  • Writer's pictureCharlotte Kristensen

MONTHLY DIGEST: May in Spain #5

Updated: Nov 5, 2019

Visiting the Viña Arana vineyards in May for the new Gran Reserva from La Rioja Alta


I'm back with three Spanish recommendations this month. A versatile Fino Sherry, a delicious premium Albariño and a modern Gran Reserva red Rioja for you to tuck into! 


XECO Fino Sherry | ONLY £15.99

Light and refreshing and comes in the most stylish of sherry bottles. This Fino has notes of almonds and dried herbs with a really appetising salinity. Enjoy as an aperitif well chilled - or it's fantastic in a range of cocktails - click here for some cocktail inspiration. Shop now and benefit from 25% off with my code XECO25 at


Mar de Frades Finca Valinas Albarino 2015 | | £23.00

This Albariño has extended lees contact which gives it a gorgeous rounded body. It also has the delicious freshness of a typical Albariño - high acid with intense lemon and some tropical fruit notes with a steely minerality. Pair it with a wealth of dishes - fish, seafood, chicken and other white meats - or enjoy as a sophisticated aperitif.


La Rioja Alta S.A. Gran Reserva Viña Arana 2012 | Imported by Armit Wines | approx £35.00

***Platinum Medal at the Decanter World Wine Awards***

This wine has both elements of a traditional Gran Reserva with developed notes of baked mince pies and a savoury, leathery earthiness - and some fresher, fruitier elements, with layers of fresh strawberries & raspberries on the palate. This wine is perfect for getting new drinkers into the Gran Reserva style of wine as it’s a more approachable take on this famous and traditional style. Delicious! A blend of 95% Tempranillo & 5% Graciano.


Humble Grape Wine Bars 

Humble Grape, Fleet Street EC4Y and other London locations

In a bustling, trendy bar just off Fleet Street, I had the pleasure of enjoying a Friday evening at Humble Grape listening to live jazz whilst tasting a flight of directly-imported artisan wines. I tried a refreshing Crémant D’Alsace, an electric Riesling from Pfalz, Germany and a brooding South African Syrah-dominant blend. The staff are amazingly trained over Skype by the actual winemakers that feature on their rotating wine flights - I love how they champion individual producers! Humble Grape also offer an extensive range of other wines by the glass and have a shop so you can purchase that delicious bottle of wine you enjoyed over dinner to sip at home.  They serve a selection of wine-oriented dishes, from lighter bites, charcuterie and cheese to larger dishes - the Comté and wild mushroom-stuffed chicken with truffled potato gratin is not to be missed! Humble Grape is also located in Battersea, Liverpool Street, Islington and Canary Wharf. Wine Flights £13  |  Wines by the glass from £7



This month I’ve got some stylish sherry prawn and chorizo skewers. Pair with sherry itself, or with fizz, all white wines and light-tannin red wines like a Beaujolais.


For a small group:

  • 20 prawns

  • 10 thickly cut chorizo slices cut in half

  • 20 caperberries

  • 1/2 glass of dry sherry - Fino or Manzanilla

  • 2 cloves of garlic diced

  • pinch of paprikas

  • squeeze of lemon 


Step 1: fry the chorizo in a moderately heated frying pan with a drizzle of oil until the chorizo is lightly browned. Remove chorizo from the pan and place on kitchen towel to remove the excess moisture.  Step 2: in the same pan pour out most of the chorizo oil, leaving a little oil to lightly fry the garlic on a moderate heat. Step 3: once the garlic is lightly browned, turn to a low heat and add the prawns, sherry, paprika and lemon juice to the pan. Add a sprinkle of salt. Simmer the prawns in the sherry for a few minutes until the prawns are cooked through. Step 4: place the prawns on the side ready to plate up. Pour the sherry juices from the pan into a small dipping bowl and cover with tinfoil to keep warm.  Step 5: in the same pan, lightly fry the caperberries in a little oil until they start to brown and then place the caperberries on the side ready to plate up. Step 6: on each skewer push through a caperberry, then a prawn, then a piece of chorizo which provides a steady base (pictured below). Serve on a platter with the sherry juice dip.


I drink a lot of Spanish wines and I adore the cuisine, so here are some of my favourite Spanish food and wine pairings for you to try:

  • Jamón and padrón peppers to snack on with an earthy and refreshing Cava

  • Fresh anchovies (by the bucket load!) with a Fino or Manzanilla Sherry

  • Palamos Prawns (bright red succulent treats) served with a zingy white wine like an Albariño.

  • Pulpo a la plancha (grilled octopus) and bacaloa (salt cod) paired with richer/barrel fermented white wines like a Traditional White Rioja, or a fuller-bodied Verdejo or Garnacha Blanca (white grenache).

  • Pork dishes or a Fideuà (braised seafood and short noddles) served with a more delicate and fruity red like a Mencia  (grape from north-west Spain) or a young red Crianza Rioja.

  • Hearty meat dishes or an aged Manchego paired with a more complex/developed red wine like a Rioja Reserva/Gran Reserva or a Toro or Priorat.

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