The best wine pairings for Navarra wines
Advertising feature: Navarra is one of the most forward-looking of Spanish wine regions offering boldly flavoured wines that are a match for a wide range of dishes.
Although its reputation was built on strong dry rosés (rosados) it now offers a range of generous, full-bodied reds that combine local grape varieties such as garnacha and tempranillo with international grape varieties such as merlot and cabernet sauvignon creating wines you can enjoy with many different cuisines.
What food to pair with Navarra’s best-loved wines
Barbecued brisket by Andrei Iakhniuk at shutterstock.com
Garnacha (grenache) is a red grape variety native to Navarra which has been revived by producers around the region with some stunning results. It makes rich generous wines that are high in alcohol and therefore perfectly suited to red meat from barbecued brisket to lingeringly slow-cooked ox cheek or oxtail.
It’s perfect with the pork and bean dishes that characterise winter eating in the region but would be equally good with hearty dishes from further afield such Korea’s dwaeji bulgogi or beef in black bean sauce. (It isn’t afraid of either sweetness or spice). It’s also great - and you must try this - with a goulash.
If you don’t eat meat think vegetarian dishes based on pulses such as beans and lentils or the substantial savoury flavour of ingredients such as portabella mushrooms and aubergines. (Try it with the Chinese dish fish-fragrant aubergines which, incidentally, doesn’t include fish!)
In terms of cheese I’d be looking to blue cheeses such as Gorgonzola and Stilton and maybe even Spain’s punchy Cabrales.
Oh, and don’t forget roast turkey! Garnacha is the perfect wine for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
One to try: El Chaparral de Vega Sindoa 2019 Old Vines Garnacha
A bright, fresh garnacha with vivid intense fruit.
TEMPRANILLO-BASED RED WINE BLENDS
Gourmet burger by Marian Weyo at shutterstock.com
Navarra has gone its own way with its reds in recent years, blending international grape varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with its own Tempranillo, creating a unique modern style that’s both elegant and accessible.
If you want to keep it straightforward, particularly with older vintages stick to simply grilled or roasted meat, especially lamb which is wonderful in that part of Spain. This is also a great style to enjoy with a rare breed steak or with venison, especially if cooked in a red wine sauce. (You can sneak a bit to use in the recipe!)
These tempranillo blends are also great with a gourmet burger, especially with cheese or with roasted or grilled portabella mushrooms. In fact it’s hard to think of a better pairing than a good cheeseboard with maybe some of Spain’s fantastic jamon iberico (iberico ham) and other cold meats on the side. Seek out Spanish cheeses such as the local Roncal and Zamorano as well as the more widely available Manchego.
One to try: Principe de Viana Edicion Limitada 2017 (Great Grog has the 2018)
An elegant smooth, ripe, cabernet-based blend.
Scallops in garlic butter by DronG at shutterstock.com
Chardonnay in Navarra is opulent and generous, among the best that Spain produces with a lovely lifted freshness that makes them particularly good with seafood.
You probably don’t need me to tell you what works with chardonnay but think of a Dover sole, swimming in butter, a fat grilled lobster (and chips) and a beautiful crisp roast chicken. Anything - chicken, pasta, mushrooms - with a creamy sauce - or a pie topping come to that. A chicken and tarragon pie with chardonnay is wickedly good as is s fine fish pie. Or a plate of roasted scallops and garlic butter (all to yourself!)
Corn is wonderful with chardonnay as is butternut squash so how about a butternut squash lasagna or risotto? Or indulge yourself with a glass for Sunday lunch - it’s perfect with eggs benedict.
Cheese might provide the one surprise though. I love a good red with cheddar but Navarra chardonnay is just as good. Give it a go!
One to try: Castillo Monjardín Chardonnay 2020
A rich, powerful chardonnay but, surprisingly, unoaked. The fact it’s grown at 650m of altitude contributes to its freshness.
Image by Kiattipong at shutterstock.com
The first thing that strikes you about Navarra rosé or rosado as it’s called in the region is the colour which is a deep intense, almost magenta like pink. That doesn’t mean it’s sweet, merely fruity with the structure to stand up to some punchy flavours. I immediately think of barbecue - it could cope with all those spicy marinades and sauces but it would be great with spicy south-east Asian food too. I love a rosado with a Thai green curry.
Nearer to home in Spain this style of rosé is great with paella, especially pork and rabbit-based ones and the perfect wine to take you through an evening of tapas. It would be great with the Navarra speciality menestra, a glorious soupy stew of spring vegetables. It can even handle tricky-to-match artichokes!
It’s obviously going to rub along just fine with seafood, especially lobster (again) or those wonderful Carabineros red prawns.
In terms of cheeses I’d pair a rosado with sheep cheeses and, particularly, goat cheeses. A Monte Enebro, one of my favourite goat cheeses, would be perfect.
One to try: Ozalder Rosado 2020
Deep, deep pink with bright cherry aromas and flavours.The classic Navarra style.
This is an advertising feature in association with D.O. Navarra
Top image © Brent Hofacker at shutterstock.com
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