May 13, 2011

Squid and White Wine from Rueda, Spain

Now who doesn’t love calamari? These crispy deep fried rings of squid-y goodness, dipped into a lovely garlic mayo… absolutely divine if done right, reminiscent of rubber bands, if done incorrectly. I am scared of hot oil though and as a general rule stay at least three feet away from a deep fryer at any given time. But then I found a recipe for squid that was neither breaded nor fried, but rather put under the broiler in the oven for a couple of minutes. I could do that! A warm squid salad. Here, the calamari are served with salad greens and a pepper relish. The dressing, which is also brushed onto the squid, contains smoked paprika, which just has to be my new favorite spice.

The recipe from the Food and Wine magazine web site suggests a Spanish red wine as a pairing partner. Beside the fact that I was not going to hunt down a bottle made from the particular grape type they are mentioning, which I have never tried and is possibly difficult to find, I could just not wrap my head around the idea of pairing a salad and seafood with a red wine. In the past, I have had a couple of rather unsuccessful pairings of spicy foods with red wine, which created the effect of an unpleasant alcohol spike in the wine’s flavor profile. The smoked paprika I used turned out to be more smoky than spicy though.

I did however want to stick to the idea of a Spanish wine, as the smoked paprika spice, known as pimentón in Spain, really seemed to demand that. I opened a bottle of the 2009 Prado Rey Birlocho from the Rueda region. This wine is made from the verdejo and viura grapes. It is a dry white wine with flavors of passionfruit and citrus notes. Anybody who likes Sauvignon Blanc would also enjoy the white wines from Rueda.

The wine worked well with the dish. The smoked paprika might have been a bit too overpowering for the Birlocho in the end though. So overall I wish I had been daring enough to try this delicious dish, the squid came out perfectly tender by the way, with a light red wine, as the nice people of F&W had suggested… But there’s always next time! Final verdict: just an OK combination. Do you ever pair salad with a red wine?

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