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Wines for Las Fallas

Springtime in Valencia begins with Las Fallas, which is a now on Unesco’s ‘intangible heritage’ list, a colourful and noisy spectacle that takes place over first three weeks of March. This is a time for street parties and eating and drinking outside. Here are some tips about how to select wines for Las Fallas.

On nearly every street corner there is a stand selling ‘churros’ and buñuelos, deep fried batter sprinkled with sugar, which are traditionally dipped into thick warm chocolate.  Why not have your churros with a glass of chilled, Moscatel de Valencia, such as Pasión Moscatel from Bodegas Sierra Norte, a local winery.

Pre Mascleta – One of the greatest wines in the world is Sherry. What could be better than having a glass of cold Fino with it pale colour, delicate, dry yet refreshing palate is perfect with a tapa some locally grown olives and some jamon or a tapa of seafood.

Seeing many people tucking into their tasty ‘bocadillos’, baguettes filled with food,  it raised the question, which wine is best to accompany a bocadillo?  A traditional bocadillo of Spanish ham and a semi mature cured cheese.  Both ingredients are fairly high in umami so best to avoid wines that are highly tannic because the taste even drier.  I would suggest an older wine, Reserva style, that has been aged in oak barrels as older wines have reduced tannins so won’t clash with the umami. Alternatively a wine made from a grape that is lower in tannin such as Pinot Noir from New Zealand or a Garnacha,  Borsao Selection from Campo de Borja

On the other hand if you are having a bocadillo with fried calamares with mayonnaise, one of my favourites, which wine is going to enhance the flavours?  One of the best and most versatile wines is a white made from Chardonnay, especially one from a cooler climate producing a fresher, lighter style of wine with crisp acidity. Avoid the buttery style of Chardonnay associated with wines that have spent time in new oak barrels, these can be overpowering.

So you are outside and it is 27ºC, it is important to keep the wine cool.  A cheap and easy way to do this is to get some ice, put it in a container and add water and a couple of handfuls of salt. The wine should cool down to a nice tasting temperature in 20 mins.  Make sure you wipe off the water and salt before opening the bottle.

I have written before on how practical bottles with screwcaps can be, especially for an outdoor event.  While here in Spain, they still have a stigma of being for poor quality wines.

Another innovation in wine packaging that is yet to catch on here in Bag in Box or the Wine Pouch, both of which are very popular in Scandinavia and UK.  Convenient and practical way to enjoy good quality wine in the open air without having to be concerned about having a corkscrew or breaking glass.

With the Masctleta over as the smoke clears, and with you ears still ringing it is time for lunch. Ask for a good bottle of Cava from Requena to have to accompany your paella.

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I am a Northern Irishman based in Valencia. My career in wine began more than three decades ago, in London. I am the founder of TheWinePlace.es, an online store, where wine enthusiasts can enjoy a selection of international wines and Verde Marte, a company dedicated to exporting Spanish wines. Also, Thewineplace.courses, an "approved program provider" of the courses of the prestigious WSET. I share my passion for wines through my media work writing weekly columns for the Spanish newspaper El Mundo and 5 Barricas, an online wine magazine.

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