Thu | Oct 19, 2017

Spanish Wines: A mouthful of surprises

Published:Thursday | October 9, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Jason Clarke contributor
The Torres Vina Esmeralda went perfectly with my shrimp pizza.
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Jason Clark, Contributor

As is typical on the weekends, I try to taste something new and opted for something a little out of the ordinary than the typical Chilean, Argentinian or Californian wines. In my recent quest, I stumbled across a few Spanish wines. As is the custom in my house, on Saturday afternoon, I popped open a bottle and shared a glass with my grandma while deciding what to cook for dinner.

The Torres Vina Esmeralda was the selection for the evening, and what stood out to me was the varietals, which is completely foreign to me since I can't pronounce it, and like most, I typically only drink or eat what I can pronounce, but I decided to push the boundaries of my exploration.

This white wine is a blend of Mosacatel de Alendria or Muscat of Alexandria and Gewurtraminer. The Muscat is considered one of the oldest unmodified vines from the ancient world. Gewurztraminer is like the adult version to Moscato, picture yourself 20 years older, more mature, more refined, and certainly a lot more mellow. But it is this varietal that adds such intense aromas and a bit of sweetness, which is what I found most striking about this wine.

It is this blend that makes for a playful mix of perfume-like aromas but not nearly as sweet as a Moscato, making it for me an exceptional wine worth having. From the first pour, its nose is striking. This is one of those wines that you definitely need to drink cold and keep fridge-cool. As the temperature rises, it begins to lose its lustre.

You can enjoy it by itself, but when paired with food, it really begins to come to life. I experimented with a shrimp pizza and I found it to be an exceptional combination, and the wine began to take on an entirely different profile in my mouth - certainly an enjoyable surprise. I typically tend to prefer dry wines (not sweet), but this was the perfect balance and by taste somewhere in the middle.

Not to ever leave out my reds which, as you know, I have a soft spot for, particularly since its heart healthy. The Torres Gran Sangre de Toro, typical of many Old-World wines, is a striking blend of varietals rather than one particular varietal. Predominantly made up of Garnacha, this wine is intensely aromatic with subtle nuances of spices. Each sip sits with you, which is what winos refer to as a long finish. This is typical of full-bodied, well-balanced wines, which this one happens to be. I typically enjoy wines like these by themselves with a good show on television. But if you are looking to pair it with food, think spicy food, like a good piece of jerk. If you are a Scandal fan, then enjoy, in true Olivia Pope style, a big bulby glass curled up on the sofa as you unwind.

Don't be restricted to what you know, or simply what you can pronounce, and try something new. There are so many interesting and exciting wines now available worth giving a taste and adding to your list of likes.

I am not an expert, merely a wine enthusiast sharing my thoughts and experiences. Feel free to share your own experiences at wineenthusiastja@gmail.com.