Rant yesterday, I attended a "food pairing seminar" led by Drink Ribera, showcasing Spanish wines from the Ribera del Duero region. The event was held at Taberna de Haro, an excellent Spanish restaurant in Brookline. I had some concerns that the event would fail to reach its potential, that pairing Spanish wines with Spanish cuisine was too obvious a choice and that it would have been more educational if a different cuisine had been involved. That is largely what occurred.
The "food pairing seminar" was actually more of a broad overview of the Ribera del Duero region and its wines. That was certainly educational, though not quite expected. For those unfamiliar with the wines of this excellent Spanish region, it was a great introduction. I was intrigued to learn that climate change has not been a major factor in this region as its higher altitude has minimized the effects of climate change. But I was hoping for a more in-depth discussion of the versatility and flexibility of these wines with a variety of different cuisines.
Rosado: Light dishes, appetizers, fish, chicken and fried foods
Cosecha: Cheese, cold cuts, pizza, BBQ
Crianza: Lamb chops, roasted meats, grilled salmon
Reserva: Roasted meats, mushrooms
Gran Reserva: Grilled lamb chops, suckling pig, Manchego cheese
The seminar included a pairing of three wines types, Joven, Crianza and Reserva, with three courses of Spanish dishes prepared by Chef/Owner Deborah Hansen. The brands of the wines were not identified so that we could concentrate on the style rather than the producer. The types are differentiated by their amount of aging. Thus, the Joven, with the least amount of aging, is more fresh and fruity while the Reserva, the longest aged, has more spice elements and the fruit notes are a bit more restrained.
Much of our fare was simple yet fresh and delicious, the high quality cuisine that I have come to expect from Chef Hansen. Each of the three courses came with two dishes (or a bowl) of food. All of the dishes went well with the wines, though that was not really surprising, except for one of the first dishes. It is surprises like that first dish of which we needed more. To make Ribera del Duero wines more mainstream, they need to be presented in every day situations, with foods like pizza, burgers, steaks, pasta and even Chinese food. As I said previously, Drink Ribera should not have gone for the obvious, but rather used this opportunity to think outside the box and pair their wines with a much different cuisine.
Kudos once again to Chef Hansen for a delicious meal, and I continue to heartily recommend that you check out her restaurant Taberna de Haro.
As for more nontraditional pairings for Ribera del Duero wines, I will work on a future post to provide some suggestions.