It’s getting hot. My winter comforter is starting to weigh heavy on my little frame, and the hot water handle in my shower is slowly heading towards more arctic temperatures. The sound of screaming and giggling children blow through our windows like a gust of innocence, while the click of glasses rain heavy on the metal bar tables below. Even the enormous kiddy pool expanding across Parque Vallparadis, teasing us from our 5th story window, is finally clean of winter debris to reflect a shiny baby blue surface soon to be covered once again with hoards of happy tanned children. This, my friends, is the time to break open the refreshments among close friends, while enjoying long leisurely evenings under a star studded sky. (Flickr photo by Basilievich)
For us, we’re prone to splurge on Cava. Granted, we live in the Cava capital of the world, Catalunya, but one can’t say enough positive attributes about this delightfully festive and refreshing style of wine. Traditionally made with a blend of Xarel.lo, Macabeo and Parellada, you may also stumble across blends made with Chardonnay, Subirat Parent or Malvasia Riojana, or red varieties such as, Garnatxa and Monastrell. As for Cava rosé, look no further than the ever famous Pinot Noir grape, and its lesser known compadre Trepat. Cava also happens to be the only style of wine that expands across 160 municipalities located in 7 Autochtonous Communities across Spain. However, the majority of the municipalities are situated within Catalunya and 95% of production is housed in the Penedes. Statistics aside, there are some unbelievably high quality cavas that can be either savored alone, staring longingly at a sunset, or with just about any food pairing you can imagine – and trust me, we’ve personally explored this route and have continually been amazed at its versatility.Â As for styles of Cava, we tend to fall back on Brut, with less than 15 grams of sugar per liter, but we have stumbled across a few Brut Nature (less than 3 grams of sugar per liter) cavas – the preferred Catalan style – which albeit on the austere side,Â showed extremely well with summer fare. For more information on cava, go here.
Sherry! Sherry! Sherry! You knew we were going to say it, because god knows we haven’t talked enough about this fantastic Spanish wine style as of late. Clearly we’re lacking in our cheer leading skills! Sherry, the style that is NOT just a cream based fortified wine your grandma nips at before bed, but a widely versatile beverage that can range from bone dry to syrupy sweet and from light in body to thick and unctuous. This style is essentially the “yes I can” drink of the modern age, able to be married with just about any situation, company or cuisine you can imagine. Sherry is a fortified wine made from white grapes in or around the southern Andalusian town of Jerez. However, to be labeled “sherry” the wine must come from within the Sherry Triangle, a small area between Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, and El Puerto de Santa María. Born of the chalky white soils, called Albariza, 40% of grapes (the Palamino, Moscatel and Pedro Ximenez) that make sherry are required to be grown in these soils.
What makes Sherry unique is twofold. First, fortification comes after fermentation. Therefore the majority of sherries start off bone dry and gain their sweetness later in the process. Second, the solera system, which ages the wine through fractional blending, increasing the average age over the course of several years. Literally, a solera is a set of barrels used to age the wine. On hot days, we tend to go for dry, austere Manzanilla and Fino sherries, preferring to pair them with light white fish, olives, aged cheese and cured meats. However, I encourage you to explore and find a sherry that suits your personal tastes. CHECK THE DATE! Make sure if you are about to enjoy a lovely sherry, please check the bottling date to ensure that your Manzanilla, Fino, Palo Cortado or Amontillado is not over a year old, or sitting in a hot location near the window. For more information on how to serve sherry, go here.
Not too long ago, I mentioned how unbelievably amazing the white wines were of Castilla y Leon. Fresh, inviting and interesting, I was personally dumbfounded with both the quality and intrigue these wines expressed. However, there are several amazing white wines through Iberia worth your attention. Check out Spanish regions (and grapes) such as: Vinho Verde (Albarino, Treixadura, Loureiro, Godello), Rueda (Verdejo), Rioja (Viura and Malvasia), Catalunya (Xarel.lo, Garnacha Blanca, Muscat, GewÃ¼rstraminer), and Valencia (Moscatel Alejandria, Reisling, Verdil). In Portugal, also check out: Vinho Verde (Alvarinho, Loureiro), Tras-o-Montes (Malvasia Fina), Bairrada (Maria Gomes – also known as Fernão Pires) and Beiras ( Arinto, Cercial, Rabo de Ovelha). And of course, let’s not forget Portuguese sparkling wines!
Way back when, we decided to compile a list of fantastic mixed Iberian drinks to enjoy when wine just wasn’t quenching your thirst. We would highly suggest you reacquaint yourself with this article to see if there just might a delicious drink or two that catches your fancy!