Viva Rioja!

A Reserve Tempranillo to Accompany Your Memorial Day BBQ

Happy Memorial Day weekend! Hard to believe it’s already that time of year, isn’t it? It’s only Sunday as I write this, but celebrations are in full swing in my hood. The sliding door to our deck is open and our neighborhood is awash with the beautiful, tempting aromas of smoke and hot, seasoned, dripping meat. It’s enough to make even the staunchest vegan renounce their (silly) ways once and for all. This holiday truly marks the beginning of summer and the launch of regular grilling season. It’s been a LONG winter so I am more than ready!

Tonight for dinner we enjoyed grilled hot dogs, BBQ kettle chips, and a tomato/avocado salad I threw together. It was simple and hit the spot perfectly. My husband is now smoking some beef ribs rubbed down with Cajun’s Choice Blackened Seasoning
over hickory wood chips. Heaven!

A Memorial Day weekend BBQ calls for nothing less than an outstanding red wine to go with your outstanding grilled meats. But with so many great choices for pairing grilled foods with wines, where do you even start? Since I’ve been rather enamored as of late with Spanish reds (see my last post), the choice was easy: Marques De Caceres Rioja Reserva 2005.

This Spanish red is made from Tempranillo grapes and scored an impressive 91 points from Wine Spectator. While the bottle makes it look like the wine itself is called Rioja, Rioja simply refers to the region of Spain where the wine is from, not the grapes themselves (kind of like Bordeaux in France).

This elegant, sophisticated red has great structure, appropriate tannins, great nose, and deep, rich flavor on the palate. It was something I picked up for fun one day at Wine World in Seattle. I can’t say I had any BBQ with it when I first tried it, but I can’t deny I didn’t fantasize about all the juicy, succulent BBQ meat dishes it could pair with.

From the tasting notes: “Attractive, vivid ruby red color. Intense, fragrant bouquet with a depth of blackberries, blackcurrants, blueberries and vanilla. Deliciously full and complex in the mouth with silky smooth tannins. This reserva highlights the character of a unique vintage that is rich and structured, whilst combining the elegance of a splendid wine that promises to develop superbly over the next few years. Uncork one hour before serving at 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit, with hearty dishes, roasts and grilled meats.”

(If you’re opting for chicken, fish, or pork for your Memorial Day weekend BBQ, Whole Foods Market’s blog has some great tips on pairing grilled foods with various wines.)


Pour Favor: Red Guitar Ignites Un Gran Pasion

!Vamanos! How about some soundtrack and visual scenery to set the mood….

You know the relief you get when you find your car keys after frantically upturning every part of your house? Or the sweet surprise when you find an unused iTunes gift card in a pile of old birthday cards? Such feelings are a close proximation to what I felt when I found my long lost love; this fantastic, affordable Spanish red that I thought had left me forever, short of a plane ticket to Espana. None other than Red Guitar Old Vine Tempranillo GarnachaAh, sweet mystery of life, at last I’ve found you! I first bought this wine at my local grocery store, drank it, fell for it, went back for more, and they didn’t have it in stock. Mi corazon roto. I had almost given up until I was in the “Spain” section at Total Wine and found it there.

The wine is 52% Tempranillo, 48% Garnacha. The tempranillo and garnacha are like two flamenco dancers swirling sordidly on your palate. Fabulous, fruity, great taste and structure. At $10, the price is ridiculously awesome. This wine, to me, is the whole shebang, todo el asunto. It scores 10/10 on every account.

According to Red Guitar Wines:

“Centuries ago, the Spanish added a sixth string to a little recognized instrument of the time, bringing to life what we now know as the guitar. For countless generations since that day, music, food, and wine have been the fabric of the Spaniard’s joyful and vivacious existence. Put simply, la buena vida (the good life). Our prized old vines of Tempranillo and Garnacha dig deep into the gravel soils of Navarra to produce wines of incredible character and quality, year after year. Red Guitar; a rich and smooth celebration of the Spanish lifestyle.

“Garnacha is the most widely planted grape variety in the world and thrives in warm, dry regions. It produces wines of great concentration and flavor, with explosive raspberry fruit characters and soft tannins. Together, these varieties combine to produce a rich, smooth, and luscious wine full of ripe raspberry and blackberry flavors on a long, soft finish.”

With that, revel in your power and sass as you sip this intensely provocative wine! 🙂