In high school I took my first Spanish class. Prior to the class, I didn’t know much about the culture nor the language. It was a requirement in school to take a Foreign Language class and I chose Spanish because I knew it would be more beneficial in the United States over French or Latin. I had no idea my life was soon to change forever. I had an absolute amazing teacher who oozed passion about Spain primarily, but also Latin America. I was hooked and it was my favorite class in school. I excelled and fell in love with the language, art, music, and food. It wasn’t until college that I immersed myself even more by majoring in the language. I learned so much and felt so connected to the point that I swore in my past life I was Spanish.
In the early 2000’s as I was beginning my career in the restaurant industry as a Manager, Spanish wines were becoming the trend on the east coast. Americans were curious and learning that the wines were incredibly affordable, and a great value. More on that, but first check out this quick video from a Tapas and Wine Bar called, Cueva. It is located in the University Heights neighborhood of San Diego. I have traveled throughout Spain and have spent time in both Madrid and Barcelona, Cueva really sends you on a transport once you step inside. Chef Oz doesn’t do “traditional” tapas, rather his personal spins on tapas from his culinary roots.
Cueva seeks wines to compliment Oz’s food and it’s pretty easy to do with the diversity you will find in Spain. Spain is an exciting wine region, you can encounter both a modern “new world” style (that I like to refer to as, “The New Spain”) and more classic styles with producers doing things the “old world” Spanish style by aging red wines in American Oak. I’ll admit, my pallet leans towards the modern style as I don’t like American Oak. I say that with a word of caution (for lack of a better term). It is very important to know your Spanish importer, so look at the back label. Spain is diverse, but there are also some poor quality importers or ones that manipulate the wines to appeal to the “juice bomb” pallets that many Americans find easy to drink. The wines mentioned in the video called, Lechuza, are imported through one of my favorite importers, Valkyrie Selections. Lechuza wines are an unbelievable value that over deliver in quality for the price. The Garnacha and Rosado (made of 100% Garnacha) will retail around $10. They are fresh, clean, and crowd-pleasing. Feeling adventurous? Seek out wines from Jose Pastor Selections, he seeks unique regions like the Canary Islands. Envinate is probably one of my favorite producers in the portfolio.
Drop me a line for more Spanish suggestions. I also highly recommend a visit to Spain, the people are amazing. Passionate, friendly, and they love to have fun. No wonder why I fell in love with the culture!