The social drinker
What wine to pair with a varied menu is, admittedly, a First World problem, but it’s still a problem. While most of us know what we like to drink with a steak or a packet of Taytos, it can be harder to pair wines with strong-tasting foods that come in small quantities. I found myself wondering about this dilemma the other day as I munched tapas.
While getting ready to feast on everything from fresh prawns in chilli, to fried squid rings, and egg dishes, I was unsure about what to drink. In a quandary, I consulted some Spanish acquaintances of mine who came up with a sensible solution: try sherry.
In this case, the sherry in question was a bottle of Barbadillo Fino, which was ideal as a companion to tapas, but I’m not sure why I did not think of this pairing by myself. Sherry is perhaps the most versatile food wine in the world, but the long names attached to the four main types can make it easy to forget what goes with what.
The simple answer is that manzanilla and fino are good for tapas, sushi, smoked salmon and cured meats; while the more nutty oloroso and amontillado suit game and sweet puddings.
Personally, I find that manzanilla is often a little too tart, but I almost always enjoy a decent fino sherry if it has been chilled properly.
For those who don’t like sherry but do like tapas, a nice rioja or a wine from the Rias Baixas region in Galicia, which is located in north-west Spain, makes plenty of sense.
A good example of a wine from this area is Veiga Naum Albarino (€18.45, O’Brien’s Wine, see obrienswine.ie) which has a hint of lime and lemon and makes a particularly good match with fish, but is also suitable for almost all other tapas dishes.