Every cuisine has at least one – a one-pot meal, a dish of humble origins that is the quintessential definition of that place and people. There’s Gumbo, Cassoulet, Risotto, Irish Stew and Pad Thai to name a few. And the Spanish? Well, they have paella. March 27th is National Paella Day.
Paella originated Valencia region of Spain. According to The Paella Company…
Paella was originally farmers’ and farm labourers’ food, cooked by the workers over a wood fire for the lunchtime meal. It was made with rice, plus whatever was to hand around the rice fields and countryside: tomatoes, onions and snails, with a few beans added for flavour and texture. Rabbit or duck might also have been added, and for special occasions, chicken plus a touch of saffron for an extra special colour and flavour. Paella was also traditionally eaten straight from the pan in which it was cooked with each person using his own wooden spoon.
There are three main types of paella; Valencian consists of rice, green vegetables, meat (rabbit, chicken, duck, pork), land snails, beans and seasoning; Seafood replaces meat and snails with seafood such as prawns, mussels, and clams and omits beans and green vegetables, and Mixed, a combination of meat, seafood, vegetables.
In addition to the three main types of Paella, two other popular variations are Vegetarian, which typically contain vegetables like artichokes, lima beans, red and green peppers,and Paella Negra, which is typically seafood, cooked with squid ink, so it looks black.
When pairing paella with wine, I recommend keeping a few food and wine pairing guidelines in mind:
- What grow together, goes together – I prefer to pair with wines from Spain, Portugal, or wine from the neighboring Languedoc-Roussillon region in Southern France. Outside of Spain or France, consider Sangiovese or Pinot Noir for red wine.
- Pair humble with humble, great with great – Paella has humble origins, I generally pair with inexpensive wines unless it’s a special occasion.
- Sparkling wines go with almost anything – Pair Valencian, Mixed, and Negra paella with rosé Cava and Seafood and Vegetarian with Brut Cava
Here are my wine paring recommendations by type:
Valencian, and Mixed
Pair with a chilled dry rosé. or an inexpensive red Rioja, other Tempranillo or Grenache. Here are a few I like (click on the link for where to buy):
- 2012 Bodegas Muga Rosado
- 2011 Bodegas Nekeas Vega Sindoa Navarra Rosé
- 2012 Château Viranel “Tradition” Saint Chinian Rosé
- 2010 Montebuena “Cuvée KPF” Rioja
- 2011 Bodegas Torremoron Ribera del Duero Tinto
- 2011 Altovinum Evodia Old Vines Garnacha
- 2011 Bodegas Borsao Garnacha “Tinto Selección”
Tip: Avoid high alcohol ‘fruit-bombs’ or overly alcoholic, tannic reds.
Pair with Albarino, white Rhone blend, Brut Cava, or Rueda. Here are a few to look for (click on the link for where to buy):
- 2011 Columna Albariño Rias Baixas
- 2011 Saint Cosme “Little James Basket Press” Vin de Pays d’Oc
- 2011 Bodegas Angel Rodriguez Martinsancho Verdejo
If vegetables include asparugus and/or artichokes, pair with New World Sauvignon Blanc, otherwise, chilled dry rosé, white Rhone blend, Pinot Gris, or Brut Cava will be nice matches.
- Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava
- 2011 Rainstorm Pinot Gris, Oregon
- 2011 E. Guigal Cote du Rhone Blanc
- 2012 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand
I hope you’ll join me in celebrating one of world’s most well-known and beloved dishes. Have your favorite paella and a glass of wine today!
Viva Espana y Buen apetito!