Let’s face it, each and every Summer we all feebly attempt to beat the humidity. The Warmth. The Sun. Those things are all good and fine. But when the air begins to resemble tomato bisque, that’s when you have to get strategic. We have a solution and it comes from the Basque Region.
Txakolina, or Txakoli (chock-o-lee), is from a special area in the north of Spain, nestled between Bilbao and San Sebastián. It is arguably the culinary epicenter of the world as it twinkles with Michelin stars and incredible restaurants (looking at you Mugaritz, Etxebarri, Elkano & Arzak). It’s also a region that happens to make some of the most refreshing wines imaginable out of two very hard to pronounce grapes: Hondarrabi Zuri and Hondarrabi Beltza.
These wines are a little lower in alcohol, light & bright, with lemony notes, and have a classic little bit of *spritz* that cools you off faster than a misting fan. No longer just a local wine to drink on your vacation, we currently have 8 different Txakolina(s) in our shop between $16.99-$24.99/bottle. Great on the beach. Perfect for a park picnic. Just the right perky pick-me-up after a long, hot day. The ultimate humidity fixer.
Spain just got a whole lot closer in one sip.
An easy way to distinguish between the two is the fruit on top.
Sangria is wine (red, white or rose) mixed with Brandy, Triple Sec (sometimes), soda of some sort or Cava, and fresh fruit as garnish (apples, oranges, grapes, berries, peaches, etc) all over ice. Usually this is made overnight or earlier in the day to allow the flavors to combine nicely before serving. Everyone has a different way to make it. And everyone is convinced theirs is the best. In our Tapas Café we are incredibly proud of our Sangria. Our Cafe Manager, Victoria, makes small batches with her special secret recipe and we’re convinced it is the best we’ve ever tried! (see what I mean). For the rest of us at home, we’ll include some easy recipes to try out below.
Tinto de Verano (quite literally ‘red wine of summer’) is a much simpler combination of red wine and fizzy/soda-type drink over ice. In Spain this is usually Casera, but you can substitute it state-side with Kas Limon soda from Despaña. We’d suggest using an inexpensive bottle of fruity red wine with low to no oak influence. Bodegas Sommos “Xiloca” is a perfect juicy Garnacha from Calatayud that tastes great on its own, but could be combined into a spritz with ease.
Here are a few creative recipes to test out this summer. Invite a few friends over and give one of these sunny “cocktails” a try!
Mango-Peach Sangria with Costers del Sio “Petit Sios Blanco” a lovely blend of Viognier from Cataluñya.
Strawberry & Lemoncello Rosé Sangria with Enanzo Rosado from Navarra.
There is something so thirst quenching about gulping down glasses of cool red wine in the sultry days of summer. And while every red wine should be served “cellar temp” (easily mastered with about 10 minutes in a refrigerator) there are some wines that beg to be chilled a little further and enjoyed frivolously. There is a term “Glou-Glou” that gets thrown around often which means essentially the same thing.
Here are a few options that we’re loving right now:
Celler del Roure “Vermell” 2012
With the temps rising we look to other sultry places for inspiration. Travelling from Valencia, this blend of Monastrell, Garnacha Tintorera & Mando (!!!) that is a brilliant purple/ruby color in the glass. Purely expressive of red berries, licorice, and aromatic herbs. Dry, with a medium-body. Light, candied red cherry skin notes. Tasty & easy to chill and drink with clam pizza!
Finca Parera “Fins Als Kullons” 2016
Brilliant ruby colored in the glass. This is a red & white co-ferment (Sumoll, Garnacha Blanca & Xarello) made in a quaffable, non-interventionist style from biodynamically farmed, estate owned fruit & no additions of sulfur. Dry, light bodied with savory black cherry & cherry pit notes, and a bright, tart finish. 1 Liter size makes it even more BBQ friendly!
Suertes del Marques “7 Fuentes” 2014
2014 was an easy, healthy harvest without rains or excessive mist (panza de burro). This is mostly Listán Negro with some 10% Tintilla, sustainably farmed with some vines up to 180-years-old. Fermented in cement or small 700-liter open vats, some destemmed, some with full clusters, but always with the indigenous yeasts. Forty percent of the volume matured in well-seasoned, 500-liter French oak barrels and the rest was kept in concrete, and blended before bottling. Ruby with brilliant reflections in the glass. Pronounced fresh red berries, floral notes & incense on the nose. Medium bodied with subtle red fruit, cassis, white pepper and angular mineral notes.
Bodegas Fulcro “Pescuda” 2015
From Valtuille de Abajo in Bierzo by Bodegas Fulcro from native varieties (60% Alicante Bouschet & 40% Mencía) with minimal additions of sulfur. Fermented with stems and aged partially in used oak & partially in stainless steel. Deep ruby in color. Subtle red fruit, bramble & mineral notes with lively acidity and a sharp, precise finish with fine tannins.
Partida Creus “VN Tinto” 2016
A wine that we can’t even keep in stock (but with good reason)! It seems like half of Manhattan has already caught onto the Partida Creus bug, and honestly, we can’t blame them.
From a younger vineyard planted in calcareous clay, farmed biodynamically. Fermented using indigenous yeasts. Grapes here are a virtual laundry list of: Trepat, Sumoll, Garrut, Queixal de Loop, Ull de Perdiu, Garnacha & Samsó. The varietals undergo whole cluster fermentation separately, in stainless steel where it’s aged 7 months on its lees. Bottled unfined, unfiltered & without any added sulfur. Pale ruby colored. Light-bodied & refreshing with bright acidity & minerality.
As mercury rises you’ll reach for all the Whites and Rosés that are humanly possible. Keeping cool with endless rooftop parties is one of the great parts of Summer in NYC. When you’re ready to explore the realm of flavor, stop by our shop for a bottle of something Tinto to chill with.
It’s that time of year…the nights are chilly and long. We crave the cozy comfort of warm beverages in front of the fire (or wrapped up in blankets on the couch). This is a simple, but heart-warming way, to beat the post-holiday slump and make January a little more festive.
Mulled Wine Recipe (serves 4-5)
- 1 bottle (750ml) fruity red wine (like young Rioja or Tempranillo)
- 1 orange, sliced into rounds
- 1/4 cup Brandy (optional, but much like in Sangria, this adds a little structure)
- 1/4 cup sugar or honey
- 8 whole cloves
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 star anise
- Feeling fancy? Optional garnish: slices of citrus, orange peel, float a star anise or cinnamon stick in the glass or add cranberries!
Combine all your ingredients in a stainless-steel pot and gently warm (not BOIL or you burn out all the alcohol) on medium heat to simmer out all the delicious flavors for 20 minutes (up to 3 hours).
Strain, and serve warm to your guests. Garnish as you like. Incredibly easy, and so soul-warming. Salud!
(photo credit: Rioja Wine )
Every vintage we purchase tiny amounts of wines from Envínate, a little winery grown from micro parcels in volcanic soils of the Canary Islands (and also some steep slopes of Ribeira Sacra in Galicia).
Envínate (translated into “Wine Yourself”) is the brainchild of 4 friends, winemakers Roberto Santana, Alfonso Torrente, Laura Ramos, and José Martínez. This gang of 4 formed back in 2005 while studying enology at the University of Miguel Hernandez in Alicante. Upon graduation, they formed a winemaking consultancy, which evolved into Envínate, a project that focuses on exploring distinctive parcels mainly in the Atlantic-inflected regions of Ribeira Sacra and the Canary Islands. Their collective aim is to make profoundly pure and authentic wines that express the terruño of each parcel in a clear and concise manner.