I am often asked for by people for advice on which wines to choose to accompany Valencia cuisine. Here in Valencia we have a rich selection of dishes with flavours of the mediterranean. There are no fixed rules when it comes to pairing wine and food, most importantly you should choose what you like. However, it is useful to know how particular ingredients influence the wine, which can be both positive and negative.
Let us begin with the most famous Valencia dish, Paella with Chicken and Rabbit. There are few dishes that are more tasty and morish that a Paella Valenciana. To accompany this dish several styles of wines come to mind. For example, Godello from Valdeorras, with its flavours of lemon and peach together with a slightly oily texture. Alternatively, if you prefer a red, a young Rioja, preferably from the sub regions of Rioja Alavesa or Rioja Alta, with its lovely strawberry and cherry flavours together with a hint of toasted oak will work well.
What could be better than being at a beach side restaurante, looking out over the Mediterranean with a plate of Fideuà with seafood and a glass of good Cava or a Cremant from the Loire Valley, which is made is the same way as Champagne but is much better value for money. The bubbles together with the fresh acidity of the wine will refresh you palate.
Valencia cuisine also has some really tasty local tapas such as Esgarrat, a mixture of roast pepper and salted cod with garlic in olive oil. This is slightly more tricky to pair with food, you have the sweetness of the peppers, the saltiness the fish together with the garlic and oil. A Sauvignon Blanc, from Pouilly Fume or Marlborough in New Zealand or Rueda, with its herbaceous and citrus flavours with a touch of minerality has the intensity of flavour and texture to go with this dish.
This dish is originally from Alcoi, in the mountainous interior of Valencia, where they also invented olives stuffed with anchovies, which is a curious thing given the town is not known for its olives nor a place where you find anchovies!
All i pebre, a famous dish from the Albufera and towns south of Valencia. The key ingredient to this dish are the eels, together with peppers, garlic and potatoes. A well made Mencia from Bierzo with is fresh red fruit complemented with earthy and savoury notes would make a good combination with this dish. The gelatinous texture of the of the eels would also work with a slightly oilier style of wine such as Viognier and Marsanne blend from the northern Rhone, a very tasty option.
When I came to Valencia more than 20 years ago, I remember trying Bunyols for the first time. Deep fried pumpkin with sugar. Simply delicious. Now that the Falleras as beginning to emerge from their winter hibernation, it makes me think of Bunyols. You have the sweetness of the pumpkin and the sugar, so I would suggest an off dry, very aromatic Moscatel from Valencia or Alicante. It is the off dry, style of wine that will match the sweetness of the pastry.
Thinking and writing about food and wine is making me feel hungry. Enjoy your lunch!