Happy Hump Day! For me Wednesday is the day when one can truly hunker down and plan out one’s weekend. Monday is spent mourning the passing of the previous weekend and Tuesday is the day actual work gets done, so Wednesday is the time to look forward once more.
Let’s wet your weekend whistle with another tantalizing wine for your pleasure. Like most of my Wine on Wednesday finds, this one resulted from a night of delicious food, fabulous conversation, and lovely friends. Recently, I spent the evening at the Coco Cabana (a local restaurant with Latin flair). Our waitress turned out to be the adorable Miranda.
I mention her because her bar staff cracked me and my friends up. Their wine list showcased two Spanish blends. Now, Spain is a land of wonderful wines, but there is a huge range in the type of grapes that might be included in something labeled “Spanish blend.” Naturally, in order to make a more educated selection, I asked which varietals were included in each wine.
If you work in a nice restaurant and tend their bar, let me give you a quick tip on a couple of things NOT to do.
1.) If the customer orders a specific bottle of wine and you are out of it, do not send the server back to the table with the message, “it’s not very good anyway.” If the customer specifically asked for it, chances are it’s a wine they know and enjoy. Don’t make them feel badly regarding their choice. If you ran out then clearly SOME ONE enjoyed this wine.
2.) When the customer asks you what kind of wines are included in your Spanish blend, DON’T say, “Spanish ones.” Especially if the types of grapes are actually printed on the bottle in large letters, see my photo below.
3.) If a customer asks you for a taste of wine- for the love of God- if it’s an open bottle, SMELL the wine. If it smells of vinegar and/or makes you want to puke- Do NOT serve the wine.
These are simple things, oh tender of the bar, but they will be appreciated by your customers- I promise.
As I mentioned our waitress proved to be very patient and professional. We gave up on tasting the one mystery Spanish wine and ordered the wine whose varietals were printed in large letters on the front of the bottle (mind you, wine lists do not typically include pictures so that’s why I asked). Those two types of wine were Tempranillo (which IS a Spanish wine) and Cabernet Sauvignon (which is NOT a Spanish wine). The combination sounded tempting to me. To our delight after all that, the wine turned out to be fantastic. So fantastic, in fact, that you are going to read about it here. Yes, it was Wine-On-Wednesday worthy.
The wine in question is the 2012 Spanish Quarter Cabernet-Tempranillo blend distributed by a company called Aveniu. This distributor is owned by one of Spain’s oldest wine companies, Codorníu, which dates back to the 1500’s. That’s staying power for you. Their specialty is cava. Call it the Spanish equivalent to champagne.
I had a girlfriend comment on my last wine post that she liked learning a fresh bit of vino knowledge, so I’ll give you a couple of new terms here regarding Codorníu and their wines. Today’s post is brought to you by the words Tempranillo and Super-Rioja.
Tempranillo is to Spain what Sangiovese is to Italy- meaning, it’s everywhere and intrinsically tied to the local food and wine-making culture. Likewise a Rioja can arguably be called the Chianti of Spain, meaning that it is a definable, regulated common table wine. Just as Italian winemakers sought to create a higher quality, more experimental wine by introducing the “Super-Tuscans,” their Spanish brethren are getting funky with blends and coming up with “Super-Riojas.” Codorníu possesses a big enough name, enough Spanish mojo, to enable their smaller boutique style wineries to source some truly quality grapes. Better grapes=better wines.
Tempranillo is a perfect starting place for an exciting blend. It is a medium-bodied wine, not a lot of tannins, not too dry or too fruity. It pairs with a wide array of foods. It’s what I like to call a Gateway Wine. By this I mean that if you are just beginning to seek out table wines, this is a great place to begin. Many novice wine-drinkers head straight to the names they’ve heard bandied about the most, usually Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. Those two are the heavies of the wine world, the biggest, most complicated wines. You work your way up to them. Starting with them may mean a newbie will think they don’t like wine, when in fact your palette just wasn’t ready for it. Start with a nice Pinot Grigio or Tempranillo and you’ll enjoy yourself much more.
This is one of the reasons the Spanish Quarter blend succeeds so well. Take a perfectly nice Tempranillo and add some Cab and you’ve amped the wine up. The earthy smokiness of Tempranillo will combine with the complexity, structure and fruit of the Cab. The majority of the aging is done in steel tanks. That way you don’t have the taste of oak competing for its spot in the flavor mix. The wine is only in barrels the last couple of months before bottling. The result is a lush wine that still works well with a variety of foods. It’s nice and tight with great fruit. Best of all- you can buy this wine for just $9.99 a bottle. Yep, you read right, $9.99 a bottle. I am buying myself a Spanish Quarter stash- I can tell you that for sure.
You’re welcome. Have a great weekend!
This post was written by Erika Gardner. If you enjoyed it, please sign up to receive updates on this blog. Or you can follow Erika on Twitter @Erika_Gardner or “Like” her Facebook page Erika Gardner- Writer and Storyteller. Check out her contributions to the BBB Blog.