Growing up with Spanish cultural, food and wine influences this month’s wine pairing takes a special meaning for us. Thanks to our friends in the Facebook Wine Pairing Weekend Group efforts, we received two wine bottle samples to share a taste of pintxos and Navarra Wines.
Among the first thing that comes to mind when talking about Spain is their food. Widely known, tapas are a tradition that has transcendent Spanish borders. Though this time we’ll be taking on the art of pintxos, the Basque version of tapas usually served with a toothpick or stick to pinch them in place; hence “pintxos” or “pinchos” (from the Spanish verb “to pinch”). Just an internet search for pintxos and you will get limitless images of sumptuous foods.
Though, not in Navarra, we have access to fabulous Spanish products that helps to replicate the experience. Wines as well are available to us; however, I have to admit finding wines from Navarra in the North Bay area has been a challenge.
We grew up in Puerto Rico, where Spanish traditions and food are part of our culture. Just a visit to a Spanish bakery and you will find yourself with croquetas, mayorcas, flanes, natillas, chorizos, etc. We also have a version of “pinchos;” street food usually meat cooked at the BBQ, and yes on a stick. I would think our version is a descendant of the Spanish pintxos, coincidentally also served with a piece of bread.
Navarra is one of Spain’s seventeen autonomous regions, land of vast inherited cultural wealth tucked into the Pyrenees of north-central Spain, just below France’s border. Navarra, best known for its annual Running of the Bulls, lies at the nerve center of the celebrated medieval pilgrimage route, the Camino de Santiago. Navarra sits along a rugged, transitional zone at the convergence of three major climate types–Mediterranean, Continental, and Atlantic. Its landscape comprises semi-desert basin, lush woodland hills and high mountain peaks, all within a total area is smaller than that of Connecticut. (Ref. www.navarrawines.us) Navarra and Basque Country are on our list to visit next. We want to experience a region with such a vast sense of history and sumptuous cuisine.
Spain has diverse geography and agriculture with crops of grain, vegetables, olives, wine grapes, sugar beets, citrus, beef, pork, poultry, dairy products, and fish. Among the European Countries, Spain has the second largest proportion of land devoted to agricultural purposes. Thanks to its land bounty, Navarra is known for locally-grown top quality products such as asparagus, “piquillo” peppers, artichokes and sheep-milk cheeses like Roncal and Idiazábal, meats and other produce. It is no surprise that such bounty has inspired a long culinary tradition.
Traditionally, tortilla Española is one of the most recognized Spanish tapas, found in every Tasca. There are many variations of Tortilla Española; however, the authentic only has eggs, Spanish onions, and potatoes. Many times, I have prepared the tortilla adding Serrano ham or Spanish Chorizo. There are many ways of preparing an authentic Spanish Tortilla. You can easily find a video demonstrating how to cook the Spanish Tortilla. The tortilla pintxo I prepared to pair with the wines is served on bread and topped with Romesco sauce, a manzanilla olive, and garnished piquillo pepper.
Croquetas de Bacalao (Salted Cod Croquettes)
A staple in Spanish cousin. Croquetas can be made of almost everything you can imagine; however, Croquetas de Bacalao is one of my favorite tapas. I admit, making Croquettes is time-consuming, but they are worth it! If you may want to venture in preparing croquettes, my suggestion is to get a copy of the Cocina Criolla cookbook, by Carmen Aboy Valldejuli. This cookbook has the best croquette recipe I have ever found, and there is an English version. The Pintxo the croqueta is served on bread with Romesco sauce and garnished with piquillo pepper.
Octopus on potato and garlic “all I oli” spread
The Octopus is served on top of boiled potato and garlic “all I oli” spread, and garnished with piquillo pepper, and sprinkled with sweet pimento (paprika). Though you will think octopus is hard to cook, I find the easiest way to cook it is using the pressure cooker. Then, grill in olive oil and seasoning for few minutes.
Navarra’s Denominación de Origen (DO) covers the southern end the autonomous territory, with over 27,000 acres of planted vines. Though the Region is vastly known for the production of Rosé wines; to our delight, Navarra also offers amazing white and reds to satisfy every palate. The D.O. Navarra is divided into five winemaking subzones: Ribera Baja, Ribera Alta, Tierra Estella, Valdizarbe, and Baja Montaña.
About the Wines
2013 Otazu Premium Cuvee
(45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot and 20% Tempranillo) Color: ruby red with Magenta hues. This wine shows aromas of ripe black cherry, licorice with hints of tobacco and oak. On the palate, cherry pie, raspberry, and licorice with notes of nutmeg with pleasant acidity, moderate alcohol, and soft tannins. I paired this wine with the octopus and the Spanish tortilla pintxos. Its soft tannins compliments both the delicacy of the octopus and the richness of the tortilla. The wine suggested retail price is between $10 and $15.00. It is an incredible value wine, elegant and silky that will pair well with many dishes.
Reserva 2012 Altos de Inurrieta
(44% Graciano, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Syrah and 10% Garnacha) Color: Dark Burgundy. This wine has aromas of black cherry, black pepper, and tobacco with hints of vanilla and baking spices. On the palate, intense ripe red berries, plum, and dark currants finishing with hints smoked meat and balsamic. It is robust with well-balanced fruit, tannins, and acidity. I paired this wine with the Salted Cod Croquette Pintxo. The wine suggested retail price is $25.00. It has great structure, and lit is long lasting on your palate, yet not overpowering. I would pair this wine with any meat, or rich fried dishes.
Check out what other Navarra wines fellow #WinePW bloggers enjoyed for this month’s wine pairing:
- Jill Barth of L’Occasion: “Eat and Drink like Hemingway in Spain’s Navarra Region”
- Nancy Brazil of Pull That Cork: “Wines of Navarra and a Meal to Match”
- David Crowley of Cooking Chat: “Steak with Manchego Mushroom Sauce with Red Wine from Navarra”
- Jade Helm of Tasting Pour: “Lamb Sofrito Nachos Night of Navarra Wines”
- Nicole Ruiz Hudson of Somm’s Table: “Cooking to the Wine: Senorio de Otazu and Broiled Skirt Steak with Romesco Sauce”
- Wendy Klik of A Day in The Life on the Farm: “A taste of Navarra Spain”
- Camilla M. Mann of Culinary Adventures with Camilla: “Pacific Rock Crab Claws + 2016 Otazu Merlot Rosado “
- Jennifer Gentile Martin of Vino Travels:“Pilgrimage to the Navarra with Bodega Inurrieta”
- Jane Niemeyer of Always Ravenous: “What Foods to Pair with Wines from Navarra Spain”
- Sarah Ozimek of Curious Cuisiniere: “Basic Spanish Flan and Navarra Wine”
- Cindy Rynning of Grape Experiences: “¡Salud! to Tapas Night and the Wines of Navarra”
- Rupal Desai Shankar The Syrah Queen: “Navarra – Spain’s Hidden Gem”
- Lauren Walsh The Swirling Dervish: “Sipping and Cooking with Patxaran: a Taste of Ancient Navarra”
- Host Gwendolyn Alley The Wine Predator: “Along the Way with Wine and Food from Navarra Spain.”