• Sangria vs Tinto de Verano: The Ultimate Beverage of Summer

    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.

    Blood Orange, Watermellon & Dark Cherry Sangria with Finca La Estacada Tinto Velasco 8 ½ (a juicy and rare red grape made in a chillable, fruit-forward, loveable way from Castilla-La Mancha.

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  • The Great Sparkling Debate: Champagne Flute vs Wine Glass

    There is a lot of confusion around what type of glass is appropriate for drinking sparkling wine.

    Traditionally (and widely accepted) as the correct glass is the champagne flute.  Noted for a long stem; slim, tapered, & elongated bowl.  Technically speaking, it reduces surface area (retaining the bubbles and creating a beautiful presentation) while also concentrating the aromas minimizing the oxygen-to-wine ratio.  The glass was developed in the early 1700s and still is used for most New Years and wedding celebrations.  We can all agree seeing this glass means “party!” more than anything else.

    A more current idea is to use a wine glass.  Specifically a white wine or “AP” (all purpose) wine glass.  Benefits here are for those very interested in *what* they are drinking.  The aromas are more prevalent, the color is easier to see, you taste the wine better (and possibly appreciate it more one might say).  While the bubbles may gradually diminish visually, you can still experience the sensation of the secondary fermentation (or carbonation) on the palate.  Still just as celebratory!  A bonus is also that you may get a large pour of bubbly than in the traditional 4oz pour in a flute.

    The coupe is another glass that is commonly used in bars for cocktails at the moment, but also a nod to the speakeasy times of yesteryear.  Everyone knows the alleged origins of this glass–modeled after the fashionable French Queen Marie Antoinette’s chest size, however, England is technically responsible for this glass about 100 years earlier in 1663.  If you’re throwing a Great Gatsby themed party this would be a great choice for stemware.  You’ll just have to keep refilling it, as the vintage glasses only hold about 120-220ml of bubbly.

    Ever see the tulip glass?  It is a semi-hybrid stemmed glass that couples the elegance of the traditional flute with a bit more of a wide bowl and then tapers to a smaller opening at the top.  This both provides the wine to “breathe,” thus the taster to gains better aromatics, while at the same time preserving the gorgeous little bubbles.  Perhaps the best of both worlds, if you can find it.

    No matter what, you should enjoy whatever glass you like to use, with whatever wine you like to drink!  Sparkling wine should not be so complicated or off-putting that you don’t drink it on the regular.  Remember sparkling wine and buttered popcorn is one of the best pairings of all time.  Not only for weddings, graduations, and New Years, this is a beverage that is innately elevating and uplifting in all ways.  It virtually makes a good time.  And as Lily Bollinger said, “I drink it when I’m happy and when I’m sad.  Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone.  When I have company I consider it obligatory.  I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when I am.  Otherwise, I never touch it—unless I’m thirsty.

    A few options from our bubbly Cava selections…

    For the celebratory:  Gramona Celler Battle 2004

    You want to taste this wine, trust us.  We at Despaña have drank it on so many occasions over the years–fond farewells of staff members in the shop, at BYOB Thai restaurants downtown, in-store tastings at our shop out of plastic cups (thanks Bill, our Verity rep!), as well as tasting it blind next to the great Champagnes like Salon, Dom Perignon, Vouette et Sorbee, & Krug at Corkbuzz.  This wine is powerful, hauntingly beautiful, and incredibly complex.  The price is a humble $104.99 for 120 months of aging and is worth EVERY penny.  Maybe serve this one in your white wine glass…..

    A walk on the wild side….with Alba Viticultores Brut Nature Rosado 2013

    This is packaged under a crown-cap (aka beer, pop-cap) but made in method champenoise in (of all places) Andalucía, and gaining so much attention from French Champagne grower-producers (like Jacques Selosee) this is an incredible wine to share.  We have a meager few bottles to offer in the shop.  We tasted through the 2013 (dark glass bottle) and the 2014 (clear, frosted and trendy bottle) and selected the older vintage in fact!  It has the most remarkable depth of flavor-aged with a combination of stainless steel fermentation, biological aging in demijohn, and a year later being disgorged without filtration or dosage.  If this doesn’t make sense, that is okay, for the few it will and the rewards are plentiful.  This wine is very noteworthy, unique, incredibly singular & important.  $54.99.

    For the traditionalist at heart, wanting dry crisp zero-dosage with a touch of bottle age to add some dimension and intrigue, we have the legendary Recaredo estate making their “Terrers Brut Nature Gran Reserva 2010.” With is a textbook of depth and complexity.  A pure example of Xarello, Macabeo, & Parellada in harmony from biodynamic farming and long aging.  This wine is bone-dry, with a fine mousse, lemon, and an herbal mineral complexity.  At $33.99 this is a steal and over-delivers most dry French Champagnes (and without all the added toxins).

    And further more…..

    Sure you can saber it, shake it up & spray it, or consume a lot of juice in it.  To each their own.  But appreciating this miracle and incredible amount of work that goes into each bottle is outstanding.

    A few pro-tips for ease in the wild world of consuming sparkling wine:

    1 bottle will give you about 4-5 glasses of wine, depending on the glassware used.  If you are at a restaurant and are a party of 4 (and would like it to be simply a *toast* for celebration and quickly move on to another beverage) than 1 bottle is enough.

    If you are 5-10 people, you will need 2-3 bottles of sparkling.  Technically speaking, you can make 1 bottle of sparkling wine stretch to 11 glasses, but that gives each person about an inch of wine in a very empty champagne flute.

    Once you pour your first initial pour of the sparkling wine, on the next pour it won’t bubble up (or over!) as much as before.

    #cavaeveryday

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  • Meet the Winemaker–April 27th with Emilio Rodriguez of Terras Gauda

    We are thrilled to announce our next special, after-hours wine tasting on April 27th from 7:30pm-9:30pm.
    Joining us is Emilio Rodriguez, winemaker for Terras Gauda (in Rías Baixas) and Bodegas Pittacum (in Bierzo).
    Enjoy a flight of 6 wines expertly paired with Galician Conservas (those little seafood jewels that Spain is known so well for)
    as well as our very own Chef Jaume’s Arroz Negro.

    We have very limited space available and tickets must be purchased in advance.
    To reserve your spot please call us or send us an email.

    $70/person
    Thursday, April 27th (7:30-9:30pm)
    info@despanafinewines.com
    212-219-1550

     

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  • Palacio de Canedo Tasting
    Palacio de Canedo Tasting
    Palacio de Canedo Tasting
    Palacio de Canedo Tasting
    Palacio de Canedo Tasting

    Palacio de Canedo Tasting

    A few weeks ago we hosted a very special event in collaboration with Palacio de Canedo winery, from El Bierzo (León). This estate has been associated with wine since 1730, when they would make and store 30 thousand liters of wine from the vineyards surrounding the Palace.

    (more…)

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