Wine Wednesday came a little early this week when I was asked to participate in a Tweet Chat on all things Rioja. I invited our friends over for Sunday night dinner, spent the day cleaning and making up some appetizers, and when it was time to chat, broke out the iPad for a little #RiojaBuzz. We were joined by the winemakers from the respective wineries and were able to ask questions of them. The chat was fast-moving but interesting, and we all enjoyed the wines.
The Rioja, divided into three sub-regions, Alta, Alavesa, and Baja, all which have, as I learned on the chat have different seasons as far as harvest goes. I was .sent two different wines to taste (There were three, but I never received the third.) Both the wines were classified Crianza which means they were aged for at least two years, once of which has to be in oak. The first wine we tasted was the Ontañon Rioja Crianza 2008 which was a blend of 90% Tempranillo and 10% Garnacha. Half our group liked the smokiness and spice of this wine. I could really taste the oak, but not in a bad way at all. It was balanced and had some nice fruit flavors.
I absolutely loved the second wine, the Conde de Valdemar Rioja Crianza 2007. A blend of Tempranillo and Mazuelo (Carignan). It also had a bit of smokiness, dried leaves, spice, and fruit. Someone on the Tweet Chat pointed out that Rioja wines are mysterious, and they kind of have that quality. They’re also a great value. The Conde de Valdemar retails for around $11.
What do you pair with Rioja? I didn’t have much experience, so I just went with what I felt like making and what was easy to put out for a Sunday. One of our guests is a trained chef and the best hostess I know, so as always, I was a little nervous!
On the menu:
Sliced goat cheddar
Sliced sharp cheddar (I wanted to get Manchego but Roche Brothers had a terrible cheese selection.)
Stonewall Kitchen Hot Pepper Jelly over baked brie (I didn’t do a puff pastry wrap, just baked a wedge of brie topped with jam at 350 for about 15 minutes until nice and gooey.)
Spicy turkey meatballs (store bought meatballs in a homemade spicy marinara, super easy)
Baguette slices and lots of different crackers
Amazing homemade calamari and sauce made by our friends
Lots of wine. Too much wine for a Sunday, but it made for a very fun and delicious evening.
We ate and drank wine until 10:00 which is definitely wild and crazy for a Sunday night. Sometimes it just has to be done.
My work week is crazy this week. I am basically jumping between 4-5 jobs every day all day and commuting into Boston for half days, then coming home at 6 and finishing the rest of my work. And I am determined to get in shape for summer, so there’s that. I have a bunch of way overdue doctor’s appointments scheduled for tomorrow afternoon, so I took a few hours off. I am actually looking forward to sitting in the waiting room and reading.
Do you watch Mad Men? I am finding this season boring, but lots of people on Twitter disagreed with me on Monday. I just can’t seem to get into it.