Aug 26 2008

Nothing plain about Spain

Published by at 1:07 AM under Savvy Sip Tips,Spain,Wine Education

I’ve been to many parts of Spain: Madrid and Toledo in the center of the country; Barcelona on the far coast; and Malaga, the southern port city on the Costa del Sol. Yet each time, as a euro-pinching tourist, I’ve only sampled whatever vino tinto (red table wine) came with el menu del dia. Cheap, plentiful … and about as distinctive as store-brand bottled water.

So it is with great pleasure that I sample the best fruit of that beautiful country’s earth here. Spain’s wine is just reaching the downslope of up-and-coming, steamrolling toward established and known. Tempranillo, perhaps the most familiar red, is gaining wide acceptance from both the Rioja and Ribero del Duero regions. And perhaps one of my favorite discoveries was made several years ago here in the States: I learned that Spain has its own version of Champagne, something called cava. You can hardly pass through Barcelona without at least a glass. (I think I had two.)

While the plains of Spain are known mainly for their reds, there’s some great white coming out of the country, too. Just Grapes’ Master Class on the wines of Spain today featured 2007 Bodegas Nora, Nora, Albarino, Rias Baixas, Spain, and 2007 Bodegas Naia, Naia, Verdejo, Rueda Spain. Try these out with a few friends, and you’ll truly be the savvy Euro sipper.

I’m a big fan of Monastrell, a great medium red that goes well with food or holds its own alone with good company. It takes me on a little passport-and-luggage-free trip to some of my favorite places, where long afternoons with friends and wine are a part of the workday and life moves at a slower pace. Maybe I’ll pour it into a carafe, break out some crusty bread with oil and toast to the vino de Espana.

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