Spain and Portugal Wine Pairings

5 fantastic wine pairings with great, regional wines


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Spain - Rioja

In my opinion, Rioja is one of the most underrated wines being made today. Whether a young Crianza or a well-aged Gran Reserva, these wines speak on so many levels. A Rioja wine is driven and exciting, with rich flavors offset by a balanced structure lending the ability to age or to be enjoyed young. The younger wines show the lively flavors of Tempranillo with the rich sheen of Garnacha, while aged Rioja remains rich and fruity but with all the tertiary notes that drive aged wine lovers crazy.

It’s a classic pairing and there’s a very good reason for it: Lamb with Rioja. The only question is in the preparation. I find one of the best to be braising. Lamb Shanks Braised with Tomato works well with both an aged Rioja and the more modern styles. It’s simple yet perfect with tender meat that literally melts in your mouth. I also found the tomatoes added another level of depth that worked great with the Pujanza Rioja Norte.

2001 Pujanza Rioja Norte - The nose showed tobacco and underbrush up front with notes of cherry and crushed fall leaves. On the palate, it was soft with balanced acidity, showing sweet red fruits, earth and saline minerals. The finish was staying and slightly tart yet highly enjoyable. (91 points)

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  • Makes me want to get on a plane! Thanks for the great ideas and, as we know, a decent bottle of Cava goes with just about anything!

    Oct 26, 2012 at 3:01 PM

  • Snooth User: SM
    1097030 218

    Another great article Mr. Guido. Yes Spanish is often unknown and overlooked by wine lovers, both amateur and knowledge in comparison to places like Bordeaux, Burgundy, Tuscany, Piemonte, etc. In September I went to a wine party where we had a Dinastia Vivanco Crianza 2008 from Rioja. Right away on the nose you could get dark plums and on the palate vanilla, new oak and dark cherries. But the even more amazing wine was a Rioja blend without any of the 'usual suspects' from Rioja. This was from a producer called Casa Roja and it was a Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Petit Verdot blend with incredible depth, structure and multi-layered. Probably a Rioja that's not so easy to find, but definitely worth the search.


    Solomon Mengeu

    Oct 29, 2012 at 12:37 PM

  • great

    Aug 30, 2013 at 2:59 AM

  • wonderful

    Aug 31, 2013 at 5:06 AM

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