SPANISH GRAPE VARIETAL
The grape from which the wine is made will lend the most useful information about the wine when attempting to pair it with food or find a specific flavor. Below are descriptions of some popular varietals and suggested food pairings.
VINO TINTO ( RED WINE – Varietal )
Tempranillo: This is Spain’s Noble Grape, often considered the country’s answer to Cabernet Sauvignon. It is aromatic and has a good acid balance. It is also known as Cencibel. Tinto Fino is a variety of the Tempranillo. Pair with chorizo, salted or braised ham, roast lamb, olives, bell peppers and charcuterie.
Garnacha: Producing a full-bodied wine, this grape is high in alcohol and low in acidity and tannins. It’s juice is sweet with berry flavors. Pair with red snapper, veal, anchovies, beef with black or bell pepper, eggplant and pork.
Mazuelo: This grape is also known as Carinena and is usually used for blending. It’s tannic, acidic and rich in color. Wines made from 100 percent Mazuelo have earthy and herbal flavors. Pair with roast lamb.
Graciano: This grape is usually blended with the Tempranillo, adding acidity, depth and color. Pair with duck and goose, herby stews, sausages and peppered steak.
Mencia: It’s similar to Cabernet Franc and produces high quality wines. Pair with goat cheese, manchego, Calamares en su Tinta (calamari cooked in its ink), pasta with tomato sauce and grilled prawns.
Bobal: The quality of this pleasantly acidic grape is debated, but it’s said to make a decent rose. Pair with roasted or grilled red meats and BBQ meats.
Monastrell: This grape has spicy and juicy notes with a sweet flavor. Pair with ham, spicy food, anchovies and roast pork and chicken
VINO BLANCO ( WHITE WINE-Varietal )
Albarino: This high quality grape has an intense aroma with scents of almonds, apples, peaches, citrus and grass. This wine does not age well. Pair with crab, cooked tuna, caviar, prawns, grilled sole, oysters, rich pates and pork.
Arien: This is Spain’s most widely produced grape. It yields characterless and acidic wines. Not recommended.
Garnacha Blanca: Wine from this grape is full-bodied, high in alcohol and low in acidity. Pair with fish and seafood risottos, cauliflower, grilled sea bass, goat cheese and lobster.
Malvasia: Also known as Subirat Parent, this grape is fruity and makes aromatic and distinctive wines. It can be sweet or dry and has honey, allspice and pear flavors. Pair with oysters, goat cheese, seafood and pork.
Godello: This high quality grape makes a light and fruity wine. Pair with eggplant, shellfish, deep fried fish, cod and couscous.
Verdejo: Some say this grape makes the best wines in Spain. It is soft, aromatic and fresh and best when young. Pair with cheese fondue, garlic, crab, bream, oregano, saffron, mint, quail and grilled sole and prawns.
Spain also produces some great sparkling wines and, of course, sherry.