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Cozy Up and Wine Down

with Ribera y Rueda Wine

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Molly AdamsStamford, CT
NYC cook making the most out of a tiny kitchen! Senior Editor, feedfeed.
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Cozy Up and Wine Down with Ribera y Rueda
Have you seen the quarantine meme circling around of a coffee cup and a wine glass passing a baton in a relay race? I've never related more to anything on the internet. I've always been a fervent wine-drinker, but spending all of this extra time in the house has definitely given "Happy Hour" new meaning. In my household, we are lucky. We are both able to work from home and have access to pretty much all we need to keep comfortable. Given that so many are not as lucky, we've been trying to see the 'silver lining' of social distancing. It's given us more time at home as a family, has allowed us to take on longer cooking projects than we might normally have time for, given us time to work on different projects around the house and (lucky for me) more time to dive into wine. I tend to gravitate towards wines that I'm familiar with and know I will like, and won't break the bank. I like crisp whites and fruity, tart reds and tend to avoid anything too sweet and until a few weeks ago, I have to admit, I didn't know much about Spanish wine at all. I did take one wine class while in culinary school, but might have been a little young to absorb and appreciate all of the knowledge (and amazing wine!).
 
So when we kicked off our partnership with Ribera y Rueda I was THRILLED to learn all about the amazing wines coming out these regions in northern Spain. Upon first taste of the crisp, bright and acidic Verdejo that the Rueda region is known for, I knew I was in love. I'm calling it now; it will be my wine for Summer 2020 (and perhaps for all of time for that matter!). In terms of food, it's versatility knows no bounds. Want to serve it with some spicy Thai? Go for it. Rough week and boxed mac & cheese all you can muster. This wine plays!  Whether you're making a fancy seafood dinner or sustaining yourself with pantry snacks, these are food-friendly varietals that everyone should have on hand. 

Moving onto the Ribera del Duero region, which is known for its single varietal wines made from the famous Tempranillo grape, something quite amazing happened.  My husband, who I've been married to for 6 years and dated for an obscene number of years longer, have NEVER been able to agree on a bottle of red wine. He likes things big, bold and in your face that will knock you on your behind if you're not careful. I love big bold flavors, but his style of red has never been appealing to me. I like things a little more nuanced and less painful (if I'm being honest!). When I cracked open our first bottle of Ribera and poured each of us a glass, we were shook (is that what the kids are saying on Tik Tok?). Shockingly, we both loved it. It had body, spice and smokiness for him and ripe fruit and juiciness for me. What I loved best of all is that these Ribera reds drank much like a Cab, but without that overpowering 'oakiness' I tend to find slightly off-putting. In terms of pair-ability, the Ribera del Duero rivaled that Rueda wine in versatility. This red would go well with anything off the grill, decadent pasta dishes, or a perfectly cooked steak. 

If all of this talk about wine has you suddenly craving a glass, I have great news!  On April 29th at 5:00pm ET we are hosting a virtual "Cozy Up and Wine Down" night on Instagram LIVE with Ribera y Rueda and our friend Alexa Sahyli Ferra of Alexa's Wine Diary. We'll be talking all things Ribera y Rueda and pairing these new go-to wines with items in our pantries, just to prove how food-friendly these regions are! The best part? We have an exclusive discount code with wine.com so you can order a few bottles ahead of time to taste along with us LIVE. Use code RiberaRueda to save 10% on your next order of 6 bottles or more!
Also, one lucky participant that shares their favorite pantry pairing will win a $500 gift card to wine.com as well a $500 donation will be made on behalf of Ribera y Rueda to COVID-19 Restaurant Workers' Relief Fund.

To kick things off, here's how I plan on pairing my Ribera y Rueda wines during the live!  For the Verdejo from the Rueda region I'll be pairing it with some spicy Jalapeño Potato Chips as well as some whipped ricotta. Alongside the Ribera del Duero, I'll be enjoying this Tempranillo  with a bar of salted dark chocolate with almonds and some truffle popcorn with Parmesan cheese!

No matter how you choose to pair, one thing that I love the most about the Ribera y Rueda region is the affordability and approachability. There is a Ribera y Rueda wine for everyone no matter your palette or budget! But enough of the wine drinking expert for now, let's get to know our Ribera y Rueda wine expert, Alexa Sahyli Ferra!
Ribera Del Duero Region, Photo by © José I. Berdon
 
Question (Molly): I like to consider myself a wine drinking expert, but I know you are an *actual* expert.  Tell me a little about how you got into wine?

Answer (Alexa): I am an arts marketer by day and a wino by night. I run a blog called Alexa's Wine Diary—essentially a chronicling of my wine adventures. When I was in college, my parents took a trip to Napa Valley and were enamored by the experience, so their curiosity and love for wine rubbed off on me. As a young professional, I’d explore different budget-friendly wines and in 2014, I started taking photos of my wine finds and started posting them on my personal Instagram with #AlexasWineDiary. Friends and family would ask for recommendations and my thoughts on the bottles, so I happily obliged.

After much encouragement, in 2017, I finally started the Alexa’s Wine Diary website and Instagram. My goal was to not only grow my own wine knowledge with every new glass but to give others a relatable perspective on wine. I wanted to focus on breaking down barriers in the industry, showcasing tastings and events, highlighting wine destinations when I travel, and—of course—sipping on great wines. I’ve grown the blog’s reach so much, have started my formal wine education, and have met so any amazing industry leaders along the way. It’s truly been such a rewarding hobby turned the second job—essentially illustrating the art of wine.  

Q: What’s your experience been like working with RyR and getting to know their wines?

A: I’ve have had the pleasure of discovering Ribera y Rueda wines and working with them for almost a year. Being in Miami with a mix of different Spanish-speaking cultures, Spanish wines have a big influence and I love Ribera y Rueda wines for their versatility, quality, and affordability.

Q: Can you tell us a little about the different regions?

A: Ribera del Duero and Rueda are two appellations (a wino word for region) located in Castilla y Leon, Spain. They have a deep and rich history, with a winemaking tradition that goes back more than 1,000 years.

One of Spain’s top red wine-producing regions, Ribera del Duero is made with Tempranillo, which benefits from the region’s extreme climate, old vines, and oak aging for depth and complexity. Ribera del Duero Tempranillo is known for its purest expression of the grape, since blends are mostly made up of 100% Tempranillo. The spices, dark fruit, and smoky flavors of Ribera del Duero Tempranillo enhance anything off the grill, roasted meats, and rich pastas—so lots of versatility.

Rueda is Spain’s most famous white wine zone. And its native grape, Verdejo, is Spain’s #1 white varietal. Stressful growing conditions and mineral-rich soils give Rueda wines their distinct quality and character. These wines have a wide range and everyone will find something to like in Rueda. From crisp and stainless steel-fermented to oaked and fuller bodied, there is a Verdejo for all palates. There is even Rueda Espumoso—sparkling in the traditional method—for extra moments of celebration.

Q: What is one simple thing about choosing wines you’d want everyone to know?

A: One of my passion points is accessibility because, let’s be honest, wine can be intimidating. The beauty of it although is that you don’t need a lot of money to drink good wine, you just need to know what to look for. Wines from Ribera y Rueda are a perfect testament to that. They are so high quality but at a reasonable price point for any budget.   

 Q: Okay, what’s your preference, Red or white?

I honestly love them both for very different reasons—it’s like trying to choose a favorite child. Living in steamy South Florida, I tend to drink more refreshing whites but I ultimately make decisions based off my mood and my food.   
 
Q: How about your pairings?  What will you be pairing your Ribera y Rueda wines with?

 

A:  For the Ribera del Duero I'm going with Frozen Pizza! I feel like I’m always cooking during quarantine, so sometimes it’s nice to pop a frozen pizza in the oven or support local by ordering one in. Younger vintages match well with tomato-based dishes. I get lots of meat on mine—like pepperoni and sausage—and put lots of red pepper flakes which the Tempranillo holds up well to.

For my second Ribera del Duero pairing I'm going with Loaded Fries! I’m such a big fan of loaded fries and they automatically elevate the potato. If you have a bag of fries in the freezer, it doesn’t get any easier than that. You cook them in the oven and while they cook, you prep everything going on top of them. I like chopping up a ton of bacon and cheese, onion, jalapeños, and tomato, but you can top them with whatever you have on hand in your pantry (hot sauce, spices, garlic oil etc.) When the fries are close to being finished, I throw on the bacon and cheese (along with salt and pepper) to really melt it up in there and top it with the rest when it’s out of the oven. The spiciness, saltiness, and fattiness works in balance with the wine.
As for the Rueda region, I'm going with Fried Artichoke Hearts with Aioli. Rueda pairs well with even the toughest vegetables. I always like having jarred artichoke hearts in my pantry for charcuterie, but I also like to fry them. You pat off the excess water or oil and quarter them, then I like to get a little beer batter going to dip them in and then off to the fryer—the smaller the pieces, the better the crunch. Aioli is a fancy word for mayo—I just whip that together with some salt, pepper, lemon, and garlic, and voila!

Next up, Tuna Melts! Rueda goes well with seafood, so I put those tuna cans in the pantry to use. I make a tuna salad with mayo, Dijon-mustard, onions or chives, dill and parsley (Rueda stands up great to aromatic herbs), and I skip celery because I hate it. Slap it on a buttered piece of bread with a bit of cheese and either open face it in the toaster oven or place it in a pan and cook it like a grilled cheese sandwich.

 
Learn More about the Ribera Y Rueda Wine Region HERE