This weekend, City Vino, invites you to taste wines to pair with a Spanish-inspired picnic!! “Picnic” often conjures up a pretty blanket on the ground in a beautiful setting, surrounded by a cooler, straw basket, and straw hats shading one’s head from rays of the strong sun above. Or, perhaps, a beach towel on the sand and sandwiches. These days, there are companies that will set up a fancy table with a vase of flowers low to the ground, surrounded by ample pillows and glorious food and wine. Not quite “glamping,” aka “glam camping,” but very close. These days, for me, my joints prefer that I not sit on the hard, because I may not be able to get up off said ground, so I’d surely opt for a nice table under and awning or large umbrella.
No matter what your perfect idea of a picnic is, consider having a Spanish picnic. Why Spanish, you ask? First of all, the Spanish are perfect at the small plates and bites called tapas. These are shared items, and often can be chilled dishes, or even dishes that don’t really have to be prepared. What would be on our Spanish picnic menu?
- Soup – yes, I suggested soup! A Spanish gazpacho, chilled from the cooler, would be a perfect start to a picnic and with farm market vegetables available, now is the time to make it. Pour it into cups and add some toppings and let everyone enjoy. Here are a few recipes for you: Authentic Gazpacho and Best Gazpacho.
- Manchego cheese is first up, and it is a hard cheese with a bit of a nutty taste. The more aged it is, the nuttier it is. Six months old is going to have less nuttiness then a 12-month-old cheese.
- Chorizo is a delicious pork sausage that is red in color, due to its flavoring from pimentón which is Spanish paprika. It is smokey and delicious.
- Serrano ham is a picnic favorite, especially when it is sliced paper-thin and eaten alongside that Manchego cheese.
- Marcona almonds will make a great choice on your picnic table. These almonds are sweeter and softer than ordinary almonds and they have a more buttery taste. They are good on their own or you can jazz them up with some spices, like this recipe: Toasted Marcona Almonds with Pimenton d' Espelette.
- Canned fish – there, I’ve said it. Fish is an important part of the Spanish diet, and canned sardines, mussels in escabeche, and others may a great picnic dish.
- Piquillo peppers are a nice addition to the table. They are fire-roasted, hand-peeled, and packed in their own juices, and delicious with fish, mushrooms, and bread.
- Bread is a must to accompany this Spanish picnic spread. Choose either Italian or, dare I say it? French bread.
- You knew we were going to suggest some wonderful Spanish olives. It’s a must for our Spanish picnic.
- Salad is always a good picnic dish served right from the cooler. Here is an idea for a Salad with Olives and Toasted Hazelnuts.
- Combine some of the above and make some Chorizo, Manchego, and Olive Skewers. We fancy like that!
- Olive oil. Don’t forget some Spanish olive oil to drizzle on anything or everything!
Now for the wines! This week we feature four picnic-ready wines from Spain. First up is the 2020 Pares Balta Penedes Blanc de Pacs, which is a blend of the three varieties that are used to making Spain’s classic sparkling wine, Cava. This is a still wine made from 47 percent Parellada, 31 percent Macabeu, and 22 percent Xarel·lo. The wine has beautiful aromas of honey, grapefruit, and pineapple, along with flavors of melon, citrus, honey, and wet stone.
Our next wine is a rose and is the 2021 Succes Vinicola Trepat Rosado "Patxanga." The wine is 100 percent Trepat, which is probably not a familiar grape name to you. The grape is often used to make rosé Cava. This is a still wine that is fresh and vibrant, with lots of acidity and notes of cherry and watermelon jumping out of the glass, followed by whiffs of salinity along with plums, strawberries, and a hint of fresh basil. The palate shows dark cherries and watermelons with citrus, white pepper and again that salt.
No Spanish picnic can be without an Albariño from the Rías Baixas, which is in the northwest corner of the country. Our wine is the 2020 Gomez y Rial Alargo which is 100 percent Albariño. In the glass, the wine is pale yellow with greenish glints of color. Aromatically, the wine shows green apple, white flowers, lemon, lime, citrus, wet stone, and salinity. Tasting the wine, the aroma characteristics are echoed along with peach, melon, ripe pineapple, and a small dollop cream.
Our final wine is a red with a little bit of age on it, and is the 2014 Burgo Viejo Reserva Rioja DOCa. This wine is a blend of 85 percent Tempranillo, 10 percent Graciano. and 5 percent Mazuelo (Carignan). This lovely red has black fruit, black pepper, and vanilla on the palate.
Whether you picnic on the lawn at our favorite park (skip the ants), on the beach, in your yard, by the pool in lounge chairs, at your picnic table in your yard, or even at your dining room table – make your Spanish picnic colorful, tasty, and full of good Spanish wine. Salud!