It’s tough to top tapas. Small plates packed with exotic, one-bite mouthfuls, you can’t stop at just one. The Spanish simply have it right when it comes to intense flavors, sparking hunger for both food and the accompanying drink.

These days, tapas menus abound, but sadly you’d be hard-pressed to find one without a suggested pitcher of sangria. Not to say that those chunks of fruit drowning in red or white wine aren’t tasty, but often, sangria is little more than watery merlot, fruit juice, and some leftover orange trimmings.

Tapas, as well as so many of the dishes we enjoy every night of the week, go perfectly with Spanish wines. Save your oranges for breakfast, and order up a bottle of Spanish wine next time you dine out on tapas.

As Director of Wine and Beverage Studies at ICE, Richard Vayda, shared with us Wine Essentials students during Session Four, Spanish wine — known for its versatility, value and great taste — can pair up with just about any of your nightly dinners. There’s deep, rich reds; fruity whites; oaky whites; spunky rosés. And not to forget, Spain’s famed Jerez, or sherry varietals. Session Four opened with a pour of Manzanilla, the rarest of all authentic sherries, being uniquely site-specific in its origin. Its intense aroma and matured, dried fruit flavor made for an adventurous apéritif. It was just what we needed to get going on the beckoning buffet of green olives, roasted and salted marcona almonds, anchovies and Serrano ham. Again, the food and the wine paired together made the experience so much more.

The selection of wines that followed demonstrated just how wide-ranging Spanish wine selection is. Vayda introduced us to a white Albariño, a white Rioja and a Tempranillo red, to name a few. Closing with a sweet sherry, we traveled full-circle through Spain’s many vineyards, each with a full-flavored wine that always seems just the right pick — whether or not tapas is on the menu.

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