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Wine + Food = Culture

Getting a taste of Ribera del Duero – The Culture of Wine and Food.

One of the magical things about wine is its ability to capture an expression of a foreign land, one I am sure we would all love to visit.  As we have discussed over the last 2 weeks, wine is derived from grapes, which stem from the land; and it is the land that informs the unique flavor profiles of a wine.  For this reason, Tinto Fino (a.k.a. Tempranillo – Spain’s Noble Grape) from Ribera del Duero will have a signature taste that is different from any other region in the world growing Tinto Fino.

Overview of Roa

At the same time, it is also important to understand that wine is a product of the people of the land.  The Wine is an expression and interpretation of their climate, local foods, and the resulting culture.  As one typically associates with villages that are more than 2000 years old, their culture is steeped in history, tradition, and will have great local foods.  Food is one of the greatest ways to sample local culture, and it is no coincidence that Ribera del Duero is best known for roasted lamb and sheep’s milk cheese.  For it is these two flagship foods that also pair wonderfully with the wines from Ribera del Duero.

Fun Fact 1: Lechazo Asado (roast baby lamb) is a local signature dish of Ribera del Duero and is the featured dish  throughout most of the villages.

So if you’re up for a virtual night in the famed region of Ribera del Duero. I recommend that you grab a nice bottle of Ribera del Duero wine and find a recipe like this one to authentically prepare slow roasted baby lamb.  Also get yourself some rich aged sheep’s milk cheese, which will go nicely with your lush complex red wine.  Although wine is delicious on its own, when it is enjoyed with food, a whole different experience is guaranteed.  A Tinto Fino will soften up with the fats found in lamb and cheese, as it is typically a well-structured wine with flavors that will expand with, age, food, and even decanting.  And this will also provide a secondary way to taste an expression of the land, which in the wine world is referred to as terroir.

When tasting the wine, focus on how the wine moves across your tongue. Does the flavor move from front to back, or does it leave a lingering essence of red fruit, vanilla, cloves etc.? How does the same wine taste with cheese, and again with lamb?  Does the roasted meat have a moist texture that becomes seamless with the tannin pucker on the inside of your cheeks and on your tongue? You bet it does, and can’t you just taste it already?

Food love wines and wine loves food. And it is this relationship that is a very fundamental expression of a local culture’s need to survive, harvest their land, and their desire to celebrate life.  With that, I hope you are inspired to continue your journey through wine and to go the extra step and accompany your wine with food that you think will accentuate your wine experience.

In our next and final week, we’ll review a wine and some food together.  And talk about some of the common expressions and tasting notes you may find in a wine from Ribera del Duero along with food.  We’ll also talk about the proper service of wine as there are simple ways to insure that you serve and taste your wine in the most optimal way.  Please ask us any questions by posting on our wall, and we look forward to answering them.


Andrew Lazorchak


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