Mike Vesseth of the Wine Economist recently noted that there’s not so much a Spanish wine style, as diverse regional styles of wine and I think that’s very true. The more you get into drinking it, the more you get used to the terroir (a French expression suggestive of the environment i.e. soil, weather conditions, landscape) in which the wine was grown. Good wine generally shows certain characteristics of that terroir so that theoretically you should be able to recognise a Rioja from a Penedès, and so forth.
This diversity means that a) you could drink a different wine from a different region every night of the year, and still have plenty of room to explore and b) even with long-running festivities such as Christmas where the eating and drinking tends to last days rather than hours, there’s still lots of good sipping to be done without getting bored.
Last week I looked at cava—the obvious choice for kicking off the season in style. This week I’m looking at the end of the meal and those sweet drops of deliciousness that round off an evening nicely. And make a great alternative to dessert for those who don’t want it.
First up is a personal favourite: Dolç de l’Obac from the Priorat is, I’m afraid, way off the scale of my under-€10 budget at around €40 for 50 cl, but is one hell of a worthwhile indulgence. It’s like diving into a bucket of blackberry jam, but one that’s still got a fine tannin structure and a touch of spice. Carles Pastrana, the maker, swears he drinks it with a juicy steak, and yes, when you try it you can see that that could well work. Though at this price, arguably better to sip and savour as an occasional treat after dinner.
Lower down the scale Sitges Malvasia is a curious and ancient wine dating back to the 13th century, and it is said that almogavares soldiers delivered it to the region during the war against the Saracens. As stickies (sweet wines) go, it’s fairly low-key, more nutty than sweet with an unexpectedly refreshing acidity. It’s perfect for those who really don’t like that teeth-grating sweetness, and a good partner to cheese.
Finally, a shout out for moscatell—not my favourite wine I must say—but done well, it's an easy drinking tipple to whip out at the end of a long, leisurely lunch. As they go I’d opt for a Torres Floralis Oro Vino made with the Alejandría variety much appreciated by the ancient Greeks and Romans. It has all that you’d expect of the grape: honey and honeysuckle, orange blossom and just a tingle of eucalyptus stopping it from being cloying. Have it alone over ice, or as a drizzle over ice-cream.