Finally the temperatures have started to rise and the rain is wearing off in this part of Quebec where I live. As we enter deep in the summer, all i want to do is cook and drink outside. One of the dishes that I love do in the summer is a big Paella.
For me paella is the ultimate Spanish dish for the summer weekends. When I used to live in Spain, I had it good restaurants in Madrid and also being a guest in some of my friends homes back there in those golden yet far remote times. It is a very intimate and friendly dish.
As a child growing up in Venezuela, I also had fond memories of eating Paella with my family and friends. Back in those times, my grandparents were friends with a lovely couple from Spain that also resided in Venezuela. They nicknamed, the coquis, don’t ask why, I had no idea. Their names were Paco and Mara
When i was 8 or 9, in an easter holiday, we spent some time with them in Higuerote, a coastal city, not far away from Caracas. The coquis were a pair of bon vivants. They knew their food and drink inside out. They had a beach chalet where they used to go on the weekends
On good friday while I took off with my aunts to the beach, Paco and Mara prepared the Paella, outside the backyard of their house. It was a seafood paella, stunning. Up to this day, I remember the fragrant aromas of the spiced rice with sofrito and saffron with the flavors of the seafood. It was a very familiar affair.
Since Paella is a very relaxed meal, you want to drink easy-going wines, to stimulate conversation. A paella party is not the proper time to open a big expensive Ribera del Duero or a luxurious Priorato. Stick with modest whites, rosados and light reds. The regions that you should be looking for include Rueda, Rioja and Navarra.
The drinks that you will have before the Paella are as important as the wines that you will have during the main meal. While preparing the Paella, you want wines to go with Tapas. Basically, you are looking for an aperitivo that will stimulate your appetite. Some of the tapas that you will customary will see include Jamon, patatas bravas or cheese.
Cava works best. However, it is always handy to have a nice vermouth in case some of your guests don’t appreciate sparkling wine. Paco used to like to drink Johnnie Walker black label, a custom that he adopted from the Venezuelan natives. However, avoid having any spirits before, otherwise you will be drunk by the time you eat the Paella.
Here is my personal suggestions, on the wines you should have with paella:
Wines to have while making the Paella
Parés Baltà Blanca Cusiné Penedès 2010. SAQ Code # 12591021. $35.25
Delicate notes of honey, nougat with toasty notes of hazelnuts, almonds and macadamia nuts. On the mouth, very fine with a silky texture and smooth bubble bringing to mind white fruits and ripe fruits. Long and tasty finale.
Gonzalez Byass La Copa Vermouth Rouge. SAQ Code # 13137647. $24.35
Lovely aperitivo starting on blood oranges with hints of clove and cinnamon. On the palate, it is sweet but not overdone. Flavors bringing to mind Italian Chinotto. Light, minty and very balanced.
Wines to have while eating the Paella
Compania de Vinos Telmo Rodriguez. Basa Rueda 2016. SAQ # 10264018. $16.20
Broding yellow fruits, mountain herbs such as chamomille, Fresh and zesty. elegant and quite balanced. Drinking very easy and dangerously.
Hermanos Lurton Rueda 2015. SAQ # 00727198. $15.60
Zesty with a nectarine-peach character on the nose. On the mouth, crisp and subtle with a round almost creamy texture. Flavors bring to mind fennel and white orchard fruit. Very elegant with a long finale bringing to mind tropical fruits.
Rioja Cune Crianza 2012. SAQ # 13087248. $15.25
Delicious tones of black fruits such as cherry, c assis and prunes. Well spiced bouquet bringing to mind paprika, cofee bean. Fresh and ample in the mouth with generous tannins.
El Albar Barricas Toro 2000. ( Private Import, $26.95, vins fins)
If your Paella has spicy chorizo or rabbit, this aged Toro could be a wonderful partner. On the nose, sultana raisins, cacao, black truffle with lots of floral undertones. Quite elegant, and round with mature tannins.
After the paella, with a bowl of vanilla ice cream and balsamic vinegar condiment:
Pedro Ximenez de añada 2013. SAQ # 12653869. $21.80
Nose on the typical Pedro Ximenez variety bringing to mind raisins and plums. Lovely orange peel (evolving towards marmelade) and a hint of apple blossom. Some candied tangerine and hints of fresh corinth grapes develop with time in the glass. The mouth is very sweet, bringing to mindcaramel and brown sugar flavours. Also dominant notes of membrillo, the quince jelly they make in Andalucia. Very long with an aftertaste that brings to mind sweet almond paste.