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A Journey Into Spanish Wine

A JOURNEY INTO SPANISH WINE OVER LONG LUNCH

By Beth Bicknell

I was going to attempt to share everything there is to know about every Spanish wine, but the internet just isn’t big enough. And then all of that thinking about Spain and wine made me hungry and so I just decided to curate my dream Spanish long lunch instead. Honestly, what is wine without food?

wine

To set the scene, we’re in Barcelona. Around an old wooden table on the hidden, top floor terrace of an eccentric, local artist (ok ok ok FINE, Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz are there). The day is warm and languid, the table is set with flowers and spilling bowls of fruit, and we won’t stop eating until the sun has fallen, our cheeks are flush, and candle wax is pooling at our feet.

(If you can’t get to Barcelona, this would be just as delicious around your very own dining table at home, with all of the people you love, and a decent set of speakers.)

Buen provecho!

First course

To drink: Cava, Penedès

Fizzy wine is a classic aperitif the world over, and the Catalans’ offering is Cava. Made from local varieties of macabeu, parellada and xarel-lo (say that three times fast!) in the champenoise traditional method, the world of Cava is broad and deep. For the first drink of the day/night - we’d suggest splashing some cash and enjoying it (preferably) out of a magnum.

To eat: Pa amb tomàquet (Pan con tomate)

One of Spain’s most iconic dishes, and certainly Catalunya’s. It’s everything and nothing. Bread, rubbed with tomato and seasoned with oil, salt and maybe garlic. Bueno!

To listen: “Entre Dos Aguas” by Paco de Lucia

Sticking with a (slightly over-played) classic here - because it’s actually that good. And in Spain, it will likely spark discussion - everyone has a favourite version.

Second course 

To drink: Albariño, Rias Baixas

Moving now to the Atlantic coast - it has to be an Albariño from Rias Baixas to accompany the iconic Pulpo á Feira (Pulpo Gallego in Spanish). Zippy, aromatic and minerally, it’s a good next step from Cava and balances the rich texture of the octopus.

To eat: Pulpo á Feira (Pulpo Gallego)

Ideally freshly caught Galician octopus, cooked, sliced into rounds, and topped with olive oil, salt and paprika. Don’t mess with perfection.

To listen: “Volando Voy” - Chambao

Keeping it calm so early in the day with a cover of a very famous Flamenco song, originally by Cameron de la Isla.

Third course

To drink: Merenzao, Ribera Sacra

As the first and lightest red (tinto) of of the day, Merenzao is a little-know grape local to the Ribera Sacra area (still in Galicia). Is this Spain’s answer to Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo? If you find an elegant year, and a quality producer, we think so. The brightness of the wine will balance the fat content of the jamón.

To eat: Jamón

A simple plate of top quality jamón (from Joselito perhaps? Widely regarded as the best in the world). Great jamón requires nothing but your love.

To listen: “La Cocinera” by Mala Rodriguez

She’s a bad-ass Spanish rapper and the chorus goes “I’m the cook of your best dishes”... It’s edgy as f*ck in Spain, a nice little halftime pick-me-up.

Fourth course

To drink: Tempranillo, La Rioja

As the food moves to north, so does the wine. Rustic stew meets rustic tannins. This is a classic Rioja, and it’s got big fruit to match those big tannins. It will warm your cheeks deliciously as the classic Asturian dish Fabada (pork and bean stew) warms your belly.

tannins

To eat: Fabada Asturiana

Spain’s answer to baked beans. No, not at all, that’s a horrible insult. These are slow cooked beans with pork shoulder, chorizo, morcilla (blood pudding), and saffron. Best served with crusty bread and a hearty appetite. The key here is to not throw the baby out with the bathwater - use the cloudy water from the jar of beans in the dish. Correct, no straining.

To listen: “Planted en mi Cabeza” by Luz Casal

The day is progressing, the shadows are long, the mood is high. So we’re kicking back to 1995 and a song to get the table bopping/ laughing/ nostalgic for their Doc Martens.

Dessert

Liquid Sultana - need we say more?

To eat: Tocino de Cielo

Like a flan but made with just three ingredients. Egg yolk, sugar and water. It’s a tender and light and unbelievably smooth custard. Heady. This beautiful little film captures its place in Spanish culture quite perfectly: https://vimeo.com/50877334

To listen: “Caminando por la Calle” by the Gipsy Kings

At this point, the liquid sultana juice is flowing and cheeks are aflush. Someone starts this one a capella. Soon the whole table is singing. Don’t worry, you’ll catch on with or without the Pedro Ximenez, it’s a song of two lines only.

Tannins | Wine Buzzwords

Novelty bonus fact: Apparently wine tannins resist oxidation in the body and are thus very good for your health. Therefore, wine = health. 

Orange Wine | Wine Buzzwords

It’s likely you’ve come across orange wines by now. Most of the cool wine bars will feature a couple on their lists and retailers are finding more shelf space for them as we look for an alternative to whites or rosé. They’re equally loved and despised. Purists will say it’s a faulty abomination, while others are excited by the fact they challenge convention and expectations. We reckon the best way to find out if you like a style is to taste as much of it as you can, so before you head off into the rooftop wine bar wilderness, here’s some info to get you started. 

What Singapore foodies taught us about the hawker scene

Meet Alvin See and Mark Ong – big time foodies, long time friends and local experts on the Singapore hawker scene. We met up with the chef/sommelier and professional food photographer for a weekday lunch at the Tiong Bahru centre where they sat us down, fed us the best char siu of our lives and explained the ways of the hawker world. 

A Day In Marlborough

Spending a few days visiting wineries in Marlborough was, as far as ‘work goes’, one of the better weeks I’ve had on the job.I tagged along on a buying trip, which translates to meeting a lot of winemakers, which translates to talking a lot about wine, tasting a lot of wine and exploring vineyards. Dream job? Pretty much.

Blind Drunking: JD vs John, Marlborough

The scene was Marlborough, a morning at Grove Mill estate to be precise. The boys were surrounded by lush purple hills and the scattered remains of empty sauvignon blanc tasting glasses. Between them sat one mystery bottle of wine. The battle was on. 

A Savvy B Journey Through Marlborough

There is no wine more divisive than sauvignon blanc amongst the team here at Vinomofo. We love to hate it at Mofo HQ, and our CEOs proudly wear t-shirts with ‘Death Before Sauvignon Blanc’ printed on them. 

60 Seconds with Pip Goodwin

Pip Goodwin is the CEO of Palliser Estate, a legendary Kiwi vino outfit working out of beautiful Martinborough. Besides being a bona fide lady boss, she’s also got a tonne of winemaking experience under her belt dating all the way back to a trip to Burgundy. So watch out, mofos, we’ve got the real deal here. 

Beyond Savvy

Marlborough is synonymous with sauvignon blanc. As a brand, it has been one of the great success stories of the modern wine world and there’s no sign of it slowing down. It accounts for 86% of New Zealand’s wine exports and really, they just can’t get enough of it. 

Would You Like To Taste The Wine Sir?

“Would you like to taste the wine?”A seemingly innocuous question that strikes fear into the hearts of so many. Those seven words can tear down even the most robust foundations of self-confidence. You’re on the spot. All eyes turn expectantly to you, and you’re thinking… “Well I dunno, what am I supposed to say?”

A Primer to French Wine

For many of us, our connection with France hasn’t expanded much further than the ability to say “voulez-vous couchez avec moi, c’est soir?” either whispered at the back of French class or shouted on a booze-fuelled tour through Paris. We’re not known for our linguistic talents, but perhaps if we were introduced to French wine in high school our attention would’ve increased tenfold. 

The Mofo Guide To Ordering The Right Wine

There should be no more stress in choosing a wine than there is in choosing your meal. That being said, there’s nothing more horrific than having to choose between the pork belly and the salmon, and even then at least you know what you’re talking about.

Bubble Trouble: International Champagne Day

October 20th is our favourite day on the calendar. Yes, it’s a Friday this year, but more importantly it marks not only International Champagne Day, but also Snoop Dogg’s birthday. And on this most holy of days, it’s only fair we take the advice of Snoop and drop, no, pop it like it’s hot. Or, if you’re living a bit further south, like it’s warming up at the very least.

Why is there chocolate in my wine?

Wine is awesome. The flavours, the textures, the layers, the weight, the heat, the twists and turns as it opens up inside your mouth and inside your mind. That is sexy stuff and I don’t care if it sounds wanky. It’s awesome. And it’s real, if you let it in. To really get it, you’ve got to understand compounds so strap yourself in because I’m gettin’ scientific on your ass (with a little help from Google).

Out of Town: Bintan Island

With just one short ferry ride, you can escape the manicured gardens of Singapore and bunk down on an Indonesian tropical island. If you’ve had hammocks and sunsets and riesling by the beach on your mind, pack your bags, grab your passport and chill your vino because Bintan is ready, and it’s paradise. 

Just chill - stop overthinking the perfect wine serving temperature

Stop overthinking the perfect wine temperature and forget the numbers. Enjoying your wine at its optimum temperature doesn’t have to be a science experiment. Once you have these simple habits under your belt, you won’t even have to think about temperature any more, you’ll just be enjoying your wine that much more.

What's The Point?

Ever wondered what those shiny medals and points assigned to wines mean? Probably not, it’s pretty self-explanatory right - the more points the better the wine? Yes, points are allocated to wines based on qualitative measures but for the consumer the question remains, so what?

48 hours in Beechworth

After a truly boutique wine experience? Head to Beechworth. Here you’ll find some of the most humble and hardworking wine folk willing to show you first hand the heartache and joy involved in making small batches of incredible vino. It ain’t glamorous and you’ll have to book appointments to arrange tastings, but it’s worth it because this region is as real as it gets when it comes to soul-stirring wine.

Happy International Grenache Day

Happy Grenache Day! I bet you didn’t know that was a thing. Yep, apparently there’s a day for everything. There’s even a movement to get Fairy Bread Day up and running here in Australia. That’s a stretch, but we’re all for celebrating wine so Grenache Day is fine by us. So, on its special day you’re invited to grab a glass and raise a toast as we share with you a few things we love about grenache. It’s a bit like a 21st – complete with awkward speeches – but with better wine. 

Fresh Kiwi Vino (other than pinot)

There’s no doubt that New Zealand is killing the pinot game. Spicy, fruity and undeniably delectable, ask any pinot fan about Kiwi juice and they’ll start raving. In fact, the pinot is so damn good it’s almost doing a disservice to the wine industry, because it’s way too easy to forget that New Zealand churns out some remarkable red wines other than pinot. But we’re gonna find ‘em.

The Rise of Rosé: A Hashtag Journey

It’s official: the pink drink has blown up worldwide. First it was the French, then the Spanish, and now the whole world is tickled pink over a refreshing glass of rosé. To give you an inkling as to popularity of this lil’ drinkling, these days the French actually consume more rosé than white wine. But what led to this meteoric rise in popularity? 

Biodynamic | Wine Buzzwords

Welcome to the next leg of our journey to make sense of vino vocabulary. Today, we’ll be tackling a term that’s shrouded in mystery and a fair bit of scepticism: biodynamic wine. Among the preferred poison of wipsters (aka wine hipsters), biodynamic vino is made using a philosophy that’s free of chemicals and tuned into the cosmic forces of the universe. But the question is, does it really make a difference to the juice in your glass? Well mofo, let’s look into a crystal ball and see.

Our 5 Favourite Wine Bars

There are too many great bars here (a good problem to have) to feature on one list, so we thought we’d feature a few favourites pouring interesting wines by the glass as well as a couple of classics you cannot miss. And it’s no coincidence these are all within walking distance from each other. You’re welcome. 

Hot summer, cool wines

There are some things that pair beautifully – salt and pepper, Netflix and chill or Bert and Ernie. It just works, and the same goes for food and wine pairing. Given it’s typically hot and humid all year round here in Singapore, we thought we’d look at wines best suited to both the climate and the spicy food we love. 

Hip Hop and Wine: A History

Surprisingly, or perhaps unsurprisingly if your rap level is expert, the hip hop scene actually has a well-rhymed history for pairing sneakers with syrah and bling with barrels. Forget those five fingers of Hennessy, what they love is getting around a good glass of vino. Thug life, wine life, same same. 

VIDEO: 60 Seconds with Tim Preston, Mills Reef

We dropped by Mills Reef in Tauranga (NZ) on a pretty bloody cold August day. We were, admittedly, quite hungover from the night before and collectively unenthused at the prospect of a day spent drinking more alcohol. That was until we tasted Tim Preston’s first class pinot noir. 

Go local: What to drink with Singapore's most iconic meals

We know. In humidity like ours, it’s easy to grow lazy with your dinner drink options. More often than not, we find ourselves pointing to a frosty fridge and pulling out a cold tin of Tiger to accompany that Monday night laksa. But we can do so much better than that, mofos. 

48 hours on the Mornington Peninsula

When it comes to weekends of pure indulgence, there are few destinations more appealing than the Mornington Peninsula. I fell in love with the place a couple of years ago, tempted by its natural beauty and seduced by its wines. It’s a love affair that continues to deepen as return visits reveal layers of charm. From wild and secluded surf beaches to soothing hot springs, DIY beach picnics to day-long degustations, the region is irresistible.

Recipe of the Month : Dark Chocolate Bourbon Mousse

On July 7th, the world will unite in celebrating one of history’s greatest traditions, World Chocolate Day. In honour of this blessed event, we’ve upped the game on this month’s recipe to bring you a delight of true indulgence: Dark Chocolate Bourbon Mousse.

Vintage - Does It Really Matter?

In short, yes it does.  The weather, consistent or volatile, cool or hot, shapes everything that happens in the vineyard, which gives the winemaker the grapes to play with.  

48 hours in Waiheke Island (NZ)

Incredibly beautiful, insanely accessible and with a microclimate to rule them all, it’s no wonder Waiheke Island is one of New Zealand’s most favouritest wine regions. We jump the ditch to spend 48 hours driving a ute and drinking vino (not at the same time and always with a designated driver, obvs) around the best of the idyll’s best. 

What your favourite wine says about you

In an image driven world first impressions count, right? It’s why we agonise over an outfit that says “ideal candidate” at a job interview or cultivate a look we hope will turn heads (in a good way). What we look like and buy into says a lot about us; in my case the current ensemble of Melbourne crafted jeans and Jack Wills jumper screams mainstream preppy with a penchant for hipster denim. And it’s the same deal with wine.

Fortified wine | Wine Buzzwords

Welcome to the next leg of our journey to make sense of wine words. In this edition, we’ll be travelling back to a time when fortified wines ruled the world, and finding out what they are and why they’re still worthy of celebration today. 

VIDEO: 60 Seconds with Andrew Santarossa

Andrew Santarossa is a killer winemaker with a killer laugh. It lies somewhere between a guffaw and a chuckle. It’s infectious. Even more so when he’s in the middle of telling you about the first time he got drunk, and how it was on some serious Penfolds juice (classic wino in the making...). 

VIDEO: 60 Seconds with Dan Sims

Dan Sims is an Aussie sommelier legend. With a few profanities thrown in. King of Revel (formerly known as Bottle Shop Concepts), his wine ethos is simple - don’t overthink it. A mantra we particularly enjoy here at the ‘Fo. We also enjoy hitting the town, and the juice, at his first-class wine events - Game of Rhones and Pinot Palooza. Sound familiar? They will if you’re a vino hound. 

DOC and DOCg | Wine Buzzwords

Welcome to the next leg of our mission to make sense of confusing wine words. In the last edition, we explored ‘terroir’ and it ties in neatly with what we’re looking at here. Why? Because if terroir encapsulates the reasons behind the unique tastes of different wines, then DOC and DOCg are the letters used in Italy to help protect those distinctive flavours. 

VIDEO: 60 Seconds with Steve Webber and Leanne De Bortoli

Steve and Leanne are the parents everyone wishes they had (which is super lucky for our customer service guru, Kate, considering they actually are her folks). A powerhouse winemaking duo from the Yarra Valley, these legends openly admit to getting a little tipsy on spumante in their younger years, drinking red wine in 44 degree China heat and believing that all wine is better with food and good friends. 

48 hours in the King Valley

When it comes to Italian varietals, I’m like a moth to a flame and the King Valley is my favourite region to burn two days. Just 3.5 hours from Melbourne, I’m poppin’ prosecco, learning how to cook like nonna and sippin’ sangiovese over a perfect sunset before camping under a billion stars. I’ve been going to the King Valley for years and autumn is my favourite time to visit. The colours of the vines are breathtaking, the warmth of the people comforting and the serenity of the place is soul charging. 

Happy Mother’s Day… you deserve a drink for putting up with us

“It’s not often I venture home to the pretty hills of Northern NSW, but when I do it’s time for hangs with mum. I especially love sitting in the garden and chatting about everything and nothing over a glass of merlot - it maybe old school and not very trendy, but this is how she rolls and it’s why I love her. Throw a nice platter of crumbly cheddar, blue cheese and charcuterie into the mix and I’m basically in paradise! Thanks for liking all things delicious mum xx.”

VIDEO: Vinomofo Meets Penfolds

Chief mofos Justin and Andre were jostling in the boardroom last week when the phone rang. It was the big dogs from Penfolds: “We’d like you to taste our new vintage icon wines before they’re released”. Cue fist pumps and heart palpitations. Bags packed, the lads headed to the hallowed halls of Penfolds (Magill Estate, South Australia) to taste a line up of some of the world’s most distinguished vino.