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!
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 ww.xecowines.com
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.
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***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.
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
SHERRY PRAWN & CHORIZO SKEWERS
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:
10 thickly cut chorizo slices cut in half
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.
SPANISH FOOD AND WINE PAIRING
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.