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Tag Archives: spanish wine

Vermouth in Barcelona: The past and present of a delicious aperetivo culture

What is vermouth? Well, let’s start with what vermouth is not. Vermouth is not only a supporting role to classic cocktails, nor is it the dry, bitter stuff that languished away in Mom and Dad’s liquor cabinet, only to be drunk in secret by soon-to-be rueful teens when left alone at home for the weekend. Yes Mom, your Martini Extra Dry met the same stomach-turning fate as the Jose Cuervo Margarita mix, the suspiciously-watered-down Gosling’s rum and that sticky bottle of Manischewitz kosher wine. So, let’s move on. Vermouth is—by definition—an aromatized, fortified wine flavored with botanicals such as herbs, spices, roots, barks, flowers, or seeds. The key to crafting vermouth is that the wine is aromatized and fortified (anywhere from 13% […]

Cecina de Leon: Mouthwatering Cured- Smoked Beef from Spain

When my husband’s family goes to Italy for Christmas, Jamon is never missing. Served reverently on a large platter, after having been cooled and aired out, it is passed and eaten immediately. Hence, in the spirit of fantastic flavor, we brought Cecina from Leon – a sublime experience. I was accustomed to ordering it in restaurants, which is typically good, but nothing to rave about; but this Cecina was something different. With a beautiful dark cherry hue, a tender mouth feel, sweet and slightly smoky, it was beyond memorable. Why was this so good?  Let’s cut back to a month earlier…… One of our wedding presents was a weekend in a Parador. These reconverted castles, monasteries or important buildings are […]

Bobal: The Spanish Grape of Newfound Nobility

In the Spanish autonomous province of Valencia, you can discover a remarkable variety of landscapes far from the long beaches of golden sand found in most conventional tour guides. Dry, desert-like areas, river valleys and fertile foothills give rise to great diversity in the wines made here. The region encompasses three DOs: D.O. Valencia, D.O. Alicante and D.O. Utiel-Requena. Among them, the wines from Utiel-Requena are probably some of the most exciting. The area has developed dramatically in the past few years, planting more vineyard area and opening new wineries. Some of the more diligent producers are paying homage to their roots through wines made from their native grape: Bobal. This variety’s newfound nobility is causing a stir among the […]

Restaurant Cañete: Fun Fine Dining in Barcelona

To find Bar Cañete, head down a bleak street branching off the Ramblas of Barcelona into the heart of the lower Raval. Among Russian import markets, used cell phone stores and corner groceries, Bar Cañete and Cañete Mantel (the fine dining side of the same kitchen) stand strong as bright spots for people in search of excellent, honest food and a convivial atmosphere in these less-than-vibrant economic times. On a personal note, it was the ‘historic’ location of my first fine dining experience upon moving to Barcelona, and since then, it has only continued to impress. A meal at Cañete is lively, entertaining, and—most importantly—satisfying in the way dinner at the countryside farmhouse of a retired three-star chef would be […]

A Luxurious Day of Food, Wine and Romance in Barcelona

Barcelona is an international, cosmopolitan city that blurs the lines between quaint Mediterranean port and modern, bustling metropolis. The life style of a vacation by the sea in Barcelona is sublime, with the important things coming first—food, fun, and relaxation. Find pleasure and balance between the constant stimuli of the urban landscape and the delight of discovering ancient secrets around every cobble-stoned corner. The heart of the city is small and best seen on foot, and as you walk hand in hand along avenues that have seen over two millennia of romance—among flower stalls and medieval archways—you too will surely carve your own, lasting moment into the history of Barcelona. Fore this is a city that vibrates with countless love […]

Aromatized Wines: Can we protect the “style” Sangria in Spain?

The levels of stupidity attained by my fellow man rarely fail to amaze me. Granted, I occasionally feel hopeful that logic will creep into the fold, but as you’ll quickly read, I’m still not holding my breath. On Tuesday, January 14th, 2014, the European parliament – in the middle of saving the whole of Europe from collapse – took it upon themselves to protect the term “Sangria”. From what I can tell, they gave geographical protections to a host of aromatized wines, including: Clarea (a drink I’d never heard of) along with Vermouth, Glühwein, etc . By a vote of 609 to 72 and four abstentions, we are now safe to say that the term Sangria must be reserved for Spain. According to […]

Collaboration in Spain

As the international success stories of newcomers like Australia and Chile and traditional producers like France and Italy have made evident, a country’s image makes a big difference to wine sales. The truth is, few products flaunt their origin so openly in their struggle to differentiate themselves from their competitors. As Spain’s economy deteriorates and domestic consumption decreases, Spanish wine producers are compelled to look to export markets to survive. In spite of its status as the world’s leading country in vineyard area and the third largest producer in volume worldwide, Spain has been unable to take its rightful place of leadership in international markets. Among the reasons for this are the small size of Spanish wineries, a distorted country […]

Christmas in Spain: How the Natives Dive into the Holiday Season

Christmas in Spain begins the weekend of December 8th on the day of the “Inmaculada” Saint. As Christmas is predominantly a religious holiday in Spain, despite the recent adoption of more western traditions, the days building up to the birth of Jesus and the gift of the Magi are still a time for veneration. If you’re ever in Madrid for this season, and you want to celebrate as the locals do, this guide will help you truly feel, eat and celebrate like a Madrileño! On December 8th, Spaniards from the surrounding pueblos make a pilgrimage to the city center to revel in a time honored tradition, which hardly changes from year to year. The first stop is Puerta del Sol, […]

Malvasia de Sitges: A grape born from mercenaries and knights

Hundreds of years before Catalunya became part of Spain, the land was under the control of the Crown of Aragon; a kingdom that stretched from the Iberian peninsula through southern France, modern-day Italy, and as even as far as Greece. Without a standing army, conquests and vengeance were exacted in the name of The Crown (our whoever had the gold) by troops of ruthless, long-haired, fast-moving Catalan mercenaries called almogavars. In 1303, led by the infamous Roger de Flor—an Italian-born Templar Knight, commander of the feared “Catalan Company”, and namesake of my first (temporary) address here in Barcelona—a troop of almogavar foot soldiers set sail for Constantinople to protect the city from the invading Ottoman Turks. They were under the pay of the Byzantine […]

The Najerilla River Valley: a special corner of Rioja with a unique style of wine

Modern holidays are something more than just a chance for relaxation and leisure; they are an opportunity for personal enrichment. Holidays give us a chance to experience a different way of life and to create a special relationship with the place visited. Only a short 30 km drive from Logroño, the Najerilla Valley is one of my “special places”. It has a number of alluring qualities: amazing landscapes, towns with a long history and great cuisine. More importantly, through blending in with the locals, I’ve learned many things about the region and its traditions, to the point that it has changed my perception of Rioja and its wines. Among these traditions, one of the most interesting is the production of “Clarete” and “Ojo de Gallo”; two local wine […]