This is an indispensable tool for those who want to follow, in English, what really goes on in the world of Spanish and Portuguese wines – lively, informative and, most important, first-hand, on-the-scene knowledge!
Victor de la Serna

Tag Archives: Wine tasting descriptors

Tawny versus Moscatel: Which Pairs Best with a Classic American Pie?

When Warre’s, one of the great Port wine companies put its Otima 10 bottle on the market, it was targeting a younger crowd with its cleaner and more modern packaging. It apparently worked for this 30-year-old wine drinker, who normally has a soft spot for the ornate, but in this case couldn’t resist how the minimally ornamented bottle allowed the burnt caramel-colored drink to take center stage. Since purchasing my first bottle of the ten-year-old Tawny ($20) four years ago, it’s been a staple of our home bar. However, this toffee-tasting treat shares the shelf with another favorite drink of mine, the Moscatel de Setubal (also in a contemporary bottle) by Bacalhoa ($12). And as if the north and south […]

A Vindima: A Geologist’s Take on the Grape Harvest in the Minho

Editor’s Note: A few months ago, Fiona Lynch and her husband Jonathan, two passionate geologists, moved from Scotland to the Lima Valley in Minho region in Portugal. And having unexpectedly participated in a Portuguese grape harvest last fall with their neighbor, Manuel, they kindly offered to share their story. We’re very appreciative of their willingness to share their experience, and hope this will be one of many we can expect from them in the future. It was autumn in the lush Minho region; an area of mist and granite of northern Portugal hard up against the border with Spain. Our elderly neighbour Manuel was calling over to us. It was mid afternoon and time for a drink. He carefully poured […]

The Diaspora of Spanish Gastronomy: A Delectible Evening at Mercat a La Planxa

Spanish gastronomy goes beyond small bites of food. It is more than foamy shots of alchemy, savory rice dishes – generically called Paella, or egg based custards. Yet despite the perpetual misconception of what actually constitutes a typical meal in a local Spanish bar, innovative Spanish gastronomy is making gigantic waves across the North American landscape. Last Thursday, I was generously invited to a Spanish wine and food pairing by Michael Grisley, co-owner of PR Grisley imports. Michael is a longtime friend of ours, in large part due to his undying passion for Iberian wine, but little did I know that he would be throwing down a gastronomic event of epic proportions at Iron Chef Jose Garces’  Mercat a la […]

Rare Iberian Discoveries: Old Vintages from Unknown Regions at a Low Price

I don’t want to encourage wine buying in supermarkets but this will have to be an exception. Two days ago, I stood in front of the serried ranks of bottles on the shelves and, avoiding the usual suspects, went to the end of the aisle where the ‘lesser’ appellations are. This was a supermarket in Zamora (Spain) and Toro – of course – dominated the selection, but, down towards the tawny Ports, were the odds and ends that one can find in any supermarket in Europe. Unheard-of appellations, unheard-of wines, unheard-of grapes, blends, producers, the lot. Now, as most wine lovers will know to their cost, unusual wines in supermarkets rarely repay the risk and the money (albeit small change). […]

Sherry by Another Name: Exploring Sherry Styled Wines from California and Australia

Sherry, as most of you know, is made in Jerez, Spain, and is a style of wine that is singular in that it is crafted in a region where the local climate helps to cultivate a yeast called Flor. For those that do not know the story of Flor, please check out our Sherry 101 article before your read on. When I first started to explore Sherry, I was lectured that Jerez was the only place in the world where Flor could thrive. Their logic made sense at the time since didn’t know anyone outside in Spain making Sherry style wines. However, many years later, I learned that flor can be cultivated quite happily outside the Sherry triangle, and consequently, “sherry-esque” […]

Vinho Verde Wine Selection Reverts to Regional Portuguese Recipe

I’m pretty certain my father-in-law buys an extra dozen clams just for me each time he whips up his special recipe for the family. It’s not uncommon to catch him staring over at me as I devour mounds of the shellfish and sop up the garlicky sauce with Portuguese rolls. “Soninha,” he says, teasingly. “Come on that’s it? There’s more in the pot.” Without hesitance, I dump more clams and sauce into my bowl and pour another glass of Casal Garcia vinho verde. I can go all night. For 16 years now, my father-in-law (or Mr. Ze as I endearingly call him) has been feeding me his version of the popular Portuguese petisco “Ameijoas a Bulhao Pato” in his Jersey […]

Abstraction vs. Context: How do Toro Wines from Quinta Quietud Measure Up?

A couple of months ago, wine writer Jamie Goode and I disagreed over an abstract approach to wine assessment. I took the deconstructive stance that one does not need to know any information about a bottle of wine to be able to rate it or appreciate it. Jamie argued that context (where it was made, from which grapes and by who) was all-important. To be fair to both of us, I think we didn’t view our approach from the correct angle, namely: who we were talking to. If you (and by ‘you’, I mean you the reader) want to know whether a bottle of wine is good or not, an abstract approach is key. A fair (underline ‘fair’) assessment of […]

Formatges Cuirols: A Slice of Goat Cheese Heaven in the Pyrenees

Upon moving to Spain, I garnered a bizarre fascination with goats. Having seen a video on Myotonic goats, or fainting goats, born with quickfire response to perceived danger that, quite literally, freezes its muscles in the course of 10 seconds, I was hooked. In this particular domestic breed, the animal completes a few stiff hops before it topples to the ground, legs straight up in the air like a bronze statue on its back. It’s one of the funniest images I’ve ever experienced, but it also left a soft spot for their vulnerability. And maybe it was because of this bizarre jester-like behavior that my appreciation never waned, or maybe it was because of my perpetual inhalation of goat cheese, […]

Restaurante Me: Perfectly Fusing Cajun, Catalan and Vietnamese Gastronomy

I love surprises. I love meeting people that exceed my expectations with their loyalty and friendship, an article that dissolves my preconceived notions or ideas, a wine that leaves me stunned with its complexity, or god willing, a restaurant that makes me wish that each and every bite would linger in my mouth for an eternity. These experiences are far and few between, but when they do come, we have to share them with you! On Saturday evening, having enjoyed a lovely afternoon tasting various Cavas along the port in Barcelona in celebration of the Festival of Merce (read more about our experiences at Merce), our group of friends decided that we needed more than just some local tapas and […]

A Gastronomic Tour of Spain: Summary of La Vuelta a España

This is the very last, and very delayed, installment of La Vuelta a España. We apologize for the rather large gap between the end of the La Vuelta and our final post, but life has taken the upper hand, as it is prone to do. But before we dive into the exciting details of who won this exciting race, let’s review where they’ve been and what you should have savored along the way. If you want a more detailed explanation of the gastronomy within each stage, feel free to click on the hyperlink provided. We began the first 4 stages of the race in the south of Spain, where the riders powered through the intense heat and radiating sun to […]