Spain has a long reputation for spicy cuisine, but in recent years, other European influences have helped tame the heat and made Spanish fare, in general, more wine-friendly.
Here are a few pairing possibilities beyond the ubiquitous tapas-and-sparkling wine offerings…
* Paella may not be the official dish of Spain, but it could be. The challenge for diners is that it’s made in an array of styles. In Valencia, white rice, green beans, chicken, rabbit, white beans, snails, saffron and rosemary are the common ingredients — and that’s believed to be the original recipe. Also popular is a seafood version, which replaces the meat with seafood (especially shrimp) and omits the beans. And then there’s mixed paella, which allows chefs to take an “everything but the kitchen sink” approach in their recipes. All three styles are commonly consumed with fruity sangria made with red wine (for the Valencian version) or white wine (for the seafood and mixed styles). Other paella pairing partners include rosé-style wines and sparkling wines.
- Lamb ribs is a common dish in Spain, and Restaurant Vinya Nova — located in the long shadows of Spain’s Montserrat mountain in Catalonia — adds breading and then deep-fries the meat (see picture). Because of the preparation, it’s a dish that can be enjoyed with either red or white wine — red because lamb is a red meat, and white because fried dishes can benefit from wines with high acid levels. In this case, Garnacha (red) and Albariño (white) work equally well.
- Fabada Asturiana, also known simply as Fabada, is a rich bean stew that often includes chorizo or pork shoulder among its ingredients. It’s popular in restaurants, especially during colder months, and also is sold in supermarkets. (Think of the difference between Campbell’s regular soups and its “Chunky” brand; Fabada would be the “Chunky” version.) Because of its bold flavor and texture, Fabada calls for a rich red wine. A California Zinfandel or a Spanish Syrah would be ideal.