Wine of the Week: Wines to pair with paella

Once in a while, two of my wine worlds collide. Such is the case with today’s Vine Guy column and today’s Vine Guy Podcast. More specifically, today’s podcast has given rise to the theme of today’s column.

As luck would have it, I had the pleasure of interviewing the lovely and knowledgeable Sandra Guibord, a former model and actress turned wine educator.

Sandra is the founder of Sandra’s Wine Life, a website dedicated to the celebration of wine and all of the life events it compliments.

She provides advice for consumers looking for wine pairing solutions for memorable occasions such as holidays, weddings and special dinners, as well as girls’ brunch, sexy fireside sippers and Wednesday night meatballs.

Guibord enjoyed a wonderful career in the entertainment industry, including ABC Daytime soaps, network TV series and films, but her passion for wine took off when an acting job sent her packing to California.

Now, Guibord is a preeminent guide in the wine and spirits community, assisting corporations in entertaining and educating their clients and executives. Her enthusiasm for helping everyday wine consumers is infectious.

It was during our interview that Guibord told me about Worldwide (wine) Wednesday, a tradition that she started a couple of years ago with her children to get them out of the rut of eating the same thing.

One Wednesday per month, she picks a country and goes all out. She prepares a traditional meal from the country du jour, plays customary music, and — my favorite part — picks a wine from the region to pair with the meal (the kids get non-alcohol beverage choices).

I love the idea, and since I currently have a couple of my adult children living with my wife and me, I have decided to implement World “Wine” Wednesday in our own house.

This week, we’re starting our inaugural WWW with Spain. I plan on making paella and opening a few of the following wines.

I chose paella because there are so many different types, each with its own unique ingredients and cooking methods, that it lends itself to a myriad of wine pairing possibilities. Thanks!

The Valencia region of Spain is credited with giving birth to the original paella. The Paella Valenciana is made with rice, chicken meat, white beans, pork (usually chorizo or pork loin pieces), green beans, tomato, sweet pepper, olive oil, and the magic ingredient, saffron.

The combination of ingredients lends itself to a few different wine pairing options. Personally, I’m going with a younger red wine, slightly chilled.

The 2018 Gotin Del Risc Mencia from Bierzo, Spain, will definitely do the trick.

Once reserved as a blending grape, Mencia has recently become very popular in Spain for its compatibility with a variety of food.

This version features a fragrant bouquet of pomegranate, raspberry, Asian spices and juicy flavors of blueberry, blackberry and dark cherry. A touch of clove on the finish adds a delightful accent. $17

I fell in love with Seafood Paella during a trip to Barcelona many years ago. It usually incorporates a cacophony of shellfish, including squid, prawns, mussels, clams and sometimes fish cooked along with the rice using seafood stock.

While it is not the traditional Valencian paella, it has grown in popularity throughout Spain, particularly along the coast. Because of the seafood focus, I think this paella requires a light, fresh white wine. Albariño wines are extremely popular in Spain and its easy to see why.

These versatile Spanish white wines are flavorful, yet delicate, and pair nicely with a variety of seafood dishes.

The 2018 Martín Códax Albariño from Rías Baixas, Spain, is fermented in stainless-steel tanks, which lets the pure fruit flavors of peach, nectarine and citrus shine through on the front of the palate while the sur lee (wine resting on the yeast and sediment) aging adds notes of pear and apricot on the bright and charming finish. $14

If you’re in the mood for something a bit decadent, and have access to a fryer, then Paella Mariscos Fritos might be an adventure your palate is willing to take.

It is essentially a traditional seafood paella made with seafood stock, but the assorted shellfish is fried and then added on top of the rice at the end. I have only had it once and can’t wait to try it again.

Because the fried seafood is rich, and a bit salty, it requires a wine that can both cut the richness and refresh the palate. The sparkling Spanish wine known as Cava was made for such an assignment.

The Juve y Camps Brut Nature Gran Reserva, a blend of traditional varietals from the Penedes region, spends 36 months on the lees before disgorgement and receives no additional sugar in the dosage, so it is 100 percent “Brut Nature.”

The lengthy aging allows the wine to develop aromas of baked bread, stone fruit and bright salinity on the nose. Flavors of apricot, nectarine and charming yeasty notes are carried across the tongue by fine-tuned bubbles and buoyed by the refreshing, bright acidity. $20

Listen and subscribe to the “The Vine Guy” podcast on Podcast One

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