Spanish food and wine matching

Sarah Gamboni
24 February, 2016

Top Melbourne sommelier Jeff Salt, of Bar Nacional, shares the secret to matching Spanish food and wine, including fine Spanish wines to seek out.

In his role as head sommelier at Melbourne Spanish hotspot Bar Nacional, Jeff Salt pairs punchy flavours with local and imported wines. Here he's matched Spanish recipes from Cooked with some of his favourite drops.


Oysters with spicy watermelon

My personal preference would be for something with a high acid component. A Verdejo wouldn’t work; you need something more textural like a Godello with yellow stone fruit flavours. An Albarino would work so long as it’s not too oily or rich. Cava would also work a treat – it’s crisp and consistent, with no surprises.

Try: NV Segura Viudas Cava, Penedes, Spain
2014 Valminor Albarino, Rias Baixas, Spain

Padron peppers

Padron peppers with jamon salt

This is a tricky dish to match, as about one in every six peppers have a real kick to them. Beer works really well, as does a gin and tonic. Four Pillars are doing great things in the Yarra Valley and Gin Mare, from just outside Barcelona are doing some interesting things with botanicals such as rosemary and thyme. Fever Tree is the best known brand on the market for tonic.

Try: Four Pillars Gin (Yarra Valley) and Fever Tree ‘Mediterranean’ Tonic
Gin Mare Gin (Barcelona) and Fever Tree ‘Indian’ Tonic

School prawns

Fried school prawns

Now, I would say a Verdejo does work well here – it has that salty, oily element that would complement the prawns. It’s delicious; a real crowd-pleaser. Another varietal from the Basque is ‘Txakoli’ also brings a little brightness, freshness and wine low in alcohol perfect for this type of food.

Try: 2013 Telmo Rodriguez ‘Basa’ Verdejo, Rueda, Spain 
2014 Txomin Extaniz Txakoli, Basque, Spain


Manchego croquettes

For the croquettes, I’d go for a drier, savoury style of rosé or a Mencia – I love this varietal, and it comes in many different guises, with a gamey, minerally quality in a medium-bodied red style.

Try: 2014 Capcanes ‘Mas Donis’ Rosé, Montsant, Spain
2013 DJP ‘Petalos’ Mencia, Bierzo, Spain

Pork belly

Roast pork belly in apple cider

I’d opt for a Tempranillo with a good tannin structure to cut through the richness of the pork, or even a Garnacha Tempranillo for some more fruit sweetness.

Try: 2013 Luis Alegre ‘Koden’ Tempranillo, Rioja, Spain
2014 Palacios Remondo Garnacha/Tempranillo, Rioja, Spain

Creme brulee

Crema catalana with orange blossom

For dessert, I’d zero in on a Moscatel or a Pedro Ximenez that’s not too sweet, as they are readily available.

Try: NV Primitivo Quiles Moscatel, Alicante, Spain
Sanchez Romate ‘Cisneros’ PX, Jerez, Spain

Where to shop 
To source these Spanish wines, Jeff suggests Rathdowne Cellars, Prince Wine Store, and Blackhearts & Sparrows

Padron peppers image: Istock

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