Find yourself a wine shop. Then get to know the proprietor. He loves his job and has invested a lot in it……. If you’re very fortunate he will take you under his wing and reward your interest in his chosen profession.
Recently I hosted a wine tasting for the divine Ms. E. featuring a selection of Spanish wines paired with a few easy-to-make-in-advance tapas.
We began with a cava — the Rosé Cristalino which runs about $9/bottle and is wonderfully dry. Perfect for a summer like evening with temperatures in the 60s. The cava paired up nicely with .. well, with everything. A selection of Spanish cheeses — Manchego, Drunken Goat, and a creamy Manchego_gouda like thing, went very well as a first course.
On to a white Viura, a grape with which I was unfamiliar. It, too, was nicely dry and partnered with the Tortilla Espagnola (an omlette made with potatoes, onions, and lots of olive oil) to good effect. The wine tasted like a cross between a non-buttery Chardonnay and a Sauvignon Blanc.
Henry Reedy, the owner of The Strawberry Street Vineyard, and I had selected a Rioja as our red. I like Rioja’s. They are tough, no-nonsense wines and made the Albondigas (meatballs in a vaguely Moroccan sauce) and Jamon Serrano shine.
We were pretty shiny ourselves by then. As you can tell, I’m no wine expert. But that’s where Henry made his presence felt. Several of our guests had travelled to Spain and were familiar with the foods and the regions from which we selected the wines. They were able to pick Henry’s brain quizzing him on the different characteristics of the grapes and generally having a fine old time swilling the product.
The next time you’re looking for a fun alternative to the standard drinks party, get to know your local wine shop owner and treat your friends to an easy, elegant and memorable evening.