Best Wines to Pair with Paella?

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.

Paella Valenciana (image courtesy of daytondailynews.com

Paella Valenciana (image courtesy of daytondailynews.com

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.

Paella Negra (image courtesy of piospaella.com)

My personal favorite – Paella Negra (image courtesy of piospaella.com)

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):

Rosé

Reds

Tip: Avoid high alcohol ‘fruit-bombs’ or overly alcoholic, tannic reds.

Seafood 

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):

Vegetarian 

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.

Need a recipe? Check out his great recipe for Mixed Paella from The Not So Cheesy Kitchen.

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! 

 

Wine Pairings for Home for the Holidays #SundaySupper

This week’s #SundaySupper theme “Home for the Holidays”, and is all about holiday traditions. Americans are such a diverse people.  As such, we have diverse holiday traditions that reflect our multitude of heritages. I prefer to focus on the common threads that run through the our diverse national fabric.  Among those common threads are family and tradition, and that’s  #SundaySupper movement is all about.

Our family tradition is to gather on Christmas Eve for our holiday meal and opening gifts (it used to be one gift when I was a kid, and when my kids were small – since we all adults now, and getting together can be like herding cats, we just open all the gifts on Christmas Eve). We’ve enjoyed Prime Rib, the last couple of years, but don’t really have a long-standing standard holiday meal. I guess, it’s more about getting together than what we eat.

Wine Lights Candles

Image courtesy of winecellarage.com

For this week’s “Home for the Holidays” theme, as best as I can, my wine pairing recommendations will reflect our diversity.  Aside from wanting to make my wine pairing recommendations congruent with this week’s theme, my reason for doing so also reflects some pragmatic food and wine pairing advice…that is pair the foods of a place with the wines of that place (Spanish wines with Spanish food, German wine with German food, etc).The flavors of food and wines that have “grown up” together over centuries (at least primarily in the case of the European “Old World” countries) are almost always a natural match. So where I could readily discern a heritage of the dish, my wine pairing recommendation(s) will be for a wine from that country. Of course, there are exceptions, but keeping this guideline in mind is a great place to start.

Here is this week’s stellar line-up of dishes.  My wine pairing recommendations are italicized.

Breakfast

Pair these breakfast dishes (except the coffee cake) with sparkling wine. Nothing like adding some sparkle to your morning to start the day!.  Look for Scharffenberger Brut Excellence, a California sparkling wine from Mendocino County.  It’s a blend of Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir with a lovely red fruit, apple, citrus and a touch of honey character.  

Pair the coffee cake with the Broadbent 10 year Malmsey Madeira. One of the things I appreciate about Madeira is that it’s relatively indestructible.  Once opened, it will keep for at least 6 months.  It’s a great dessert wine to keep on hand because it has a backbone of natural acidity.  It a great match for fruitcake, or rich desserts made with cream or chocolate. Or it can be the dessert in and of itself (If you have a sweet tooth, Madeira can satisfy it, and it has few calories too most other dessert choices!;-) 

Appetizers & Snacks

Pair these dishes with the Scharffenberger Brut Excellence

Main Dishes and Sides

Pair this dishes with a white Rhone blend. What’s great about blends is that the combination of grape varietals creates vinous synergy – a wine that is greater than the sum of its parts. Look for the 2011 Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas Blanc. It’s a blend of Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Marsanne, and Roussanne. It’s a crisp and aromatic wine with honeysuckle and stone fruit aromas that follow onto the palate. It also has very good acidity and an appealing minerality that make it versatile food partner.

Pair the following dishes with the 2011 Burgáns Albariño Rias Baixas a crisp, fresh food-friendly white wine from Spain with a crisp apple, apricot and peach character. 

Pair these dishes with Gruner Vetliner (Groo-ner Velt-Leen-er), the primary white grape variety of Austria.  It is typically medium-bodied, high-acid mineral driven wine that is very food friendly.  Look for the 2011 Laurenz V. Singing Gruner Veltliner. 

Pair these dishes with Sangiovese (that is if you prefer wine over the delightful Martinis;-). I recommend the 2010 La Mozza I Perazzi Morellino di Scansano. It’s a “Super-Tuscan blend of 85% Sangiovese, 5% Syrah, 5% Alicante, 2% Colorino and 3% Ciliegiolo.  It shows a wonderful mixed berry, and spice character with a bit of smoky tobacco, and licorice aromas. 

Pair this dish with the Scharffenberger Brut Excellence sparkling wine:

Pair these dishes with Torrontes, a white Argentine wine grape variety that produces delightful, spicy, perfumed wines.  Look for the 2011 Bodega Colome Torrontes. It’s off-dry with an aromatic fresh citrus, kiwi, and white flower character. 

Pair these dishes with a Riesling.  One of my favorites is the 2011 Josef Leitz Rüdesheimer Drachenstein “Dragonstone” Riesling. It’s an off-dry Riesling with an apple, pear, citrus, and mineral character with great acidity. 

Pair this dish with the 2009 Boas Vinhas Tinto Dao, a red wine from Portugal that is a blend of the indigenous Portuguese grapes Touriga Nacional, Alfrocheiro and Tinta Roriz with a  plum, dried berry, blackberry and spice character that is layered with supple tannins and good acidity.

Pair this dish with a Moscato d’Asti Moscato d’Asti from Italy.  Look for the 2011 Saracco Moscato d’Asti. It shows a sweet, fragrant, delicate, floral, tropical fruit, and a hint of honey character.  It’s “frizzante”, which means it’s not as effervescent as most sparkling wines. It’s also a wonderful example of why I love sparkling wines, they can work with all the courses of a meal from appetizers through dessert. 

Desserts

Pair these desserts with a Sauternes,  a sweet wine from the Sauternais region of the Graves section of Bordeaux. They are made from  SémillonSauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle grapes affected by noble rot.  Look for the 2005 Guiraud Sauternes.  It has a full-bodied, honeyed, lemon tart, baked apple, baking spice, and  vanilla cream character

Pair these desserts with an Oloroso Sherry, a denser richer style of Sherry.  Look for the Lustau East Indian Solera. It’s a provocative sweet creamy Sherry with a toffee, fig, caramel, raisin, and baking spice  (cinnamon and clove) character. 

Pair these Italian desserts with the 2011 Saracco Moscato d’Asti.

Pair this dish with a late harvest Riesling.  Look for the  2011 Joh. Jos. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese. It’s a has an elegant, floral, spicy, exotic, and tropical fruit character. 

Pair this dish with an a German Red wine made from the Spatburgunder (Pinot Noir) grape variety. Look for the 2009 Friedrich Becker Estate Pinot Noir.  It’s a spicy treat with a strawberry, cherry, and earthy character that will stand up to having the Pfeffernusse dipped in it, or used as a based for gluhwein, a spiced red wine drink!

Drinks

What does it mean for you to be Home for the Holidays?  Please join on us on Twitter throughout the day during #SundaySupper on December 23rd.  In the evening we will meet at 7pm EST for our #SundaySupper to talk about our Holiday Traditions.  We are so excited to have you join us.  All you have to do is follow the #SundaySupper hashtag or you can follow us through TweetChat.

Please feel free to share with us and our followers your favorite Holiday recipe on our #SundaySupper Pinterest Board.  We are excited to have you!

Paella fans rejoice…15 Minute Paella!

One of the true gifts that wine and food offers is the ability to transport you to the culture of another place.  Paella is one of my favorite foods, and whenever I have it, it isn’t hard to imagine myself savoring a warm, sunny day in Madrid, or Costa del Sol enjoying an evening repast of tapas, followed by paella, while enjoying a glass of wine, or sherry (or better yet, both!).  Traditional paella is a simmered rice dish that includes seafood or meat (chicken and rabbit traditionally) that typically takes an hour, or more to prepare.  I found this 15 minute version from Rachel Ray, in which couscous replaces rice.  It has the familiar flavors of a mixed (chicken, sausage, and seafood) paella.  All that is missing is the bottom crusty part of the rice, called the socarrat. That’s a trade-off I’ll take any time to enjoy the flavors of paella on a weeknight!

Besides being able to prepare this on a weeknight, the other thing I’ve come to appreciate about this recipe is its flexibility.  I usually prepare with boneless skinless thighs rather than breast meat because I prefer the tenderness, and flavor of thigh meat.  And more oft than not, I substitute, or augment the recipe depending on what’s on hand, or my mood.  For example, the last time I prepared it, I substituted a pound of Trader Joe’s seafood trio (shrimp, calamari, and scallops) for the shrimp.  Or, if I have canned clams on hand I might throw them in. You can not only substitute meats, you may also substitute clam juice, or seafood stock (1/2 to 1/3 cup) for the chicken stock if you prefer stronger seafood flavor.

15 Minute Paella with Chorizo, Chicken, Shrimp, Calamari, and Scallops

 

From Rachel Ray’s website:

Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), about 4 turns of the pan
  • 1/2 pound fresh uncooked chorizo, casings removed and cut into bite-size dice
  • 3/4 pound chicken cutlets or tenderloins, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 4-5 sprigs fresh thyme (tip: tie them together to make it easy to retrieve later)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 pound medium size shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 cloves garlic, grated or chopped
  • 2 Piquillo peppers or 1 roasted red pepper, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric (eyeball it in your palm)
  • 1 envelope saffron powder or a pinch of saffron threads
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups couscous
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • A generous handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped
Preparation

Heat EVOO over medium-high heat in a deep skillet – make sure to choose a pan with a tight-fitting lid. Add the chorizo, cook for one minute to render some of its fat, then add the chicken, bay leaf, thyme and onions.

Cook for two minutes to start softening the onions, then add shrimp, red pepper flakes, garlic, Piquillo or red peppers, turmeric and saffron, and cook until shrimp are just about cooked through, about three minutes.

Season with salt and pepper; then add chicken stock.

Bring stock to a boil, about one minute. Stir in couscous, peas and lemon zest. Cover and turn off heat. Let stand five minutes then fluff with fork. Remove bay and thyme stems, sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.

Wine pairing for the evening

 

Of course, no meal is complete without wine.  I think a dry Rosé is a great pairing for this dish.  I’ve had it many times and always enjoy it. However, I’ve been wanting to try Sherry since I understand it’s so food friendly, and because it’s a wine made in Spain.  So, I decided to give both a try.  For the Rosé, I picked one of my favorites, the 2009 Dashe Vin Gris (click here for my review).  For the Sherry, I picked Lustau Puerto Fino Solera Reserva

Both the Rosé, and the Sherry paired very well with the paella, although I didn’t enjoy the sherry quite as much as I enjoyed Rosé. It was my first experience with sherry, and I found it to be a bit chalky and briny on the nose and the palate, as opposed to the fruity nose and palate with which I’m accustomed to with other wines.  Consequently, I enjoyed the Rosé more on a stand-alone basis, while it seemed the sherry didn’t shine until it was paired with the paella.  I look forward to trying the sherry again, but my initial impression is that it’ll be an acquired taste for me.

If you preference is white wine, try a dry Riesling, a Rhone white from Languedoc, or a Rueda if you want to stick with the Spain theme. If you prefer a red, try an inexpensive  tempranillo from Rioja, or medium bodied Garnacha(Grenache), or Garnacha blend  from Priorat.  My only caution for a red would be to avoid a “fruit bomb”, or any highly alcohol, highly tannic red.  Experimenting with wine and food pairing is half the fun!

Salud!