Vamonos! It’s time to do as the Español: Eat, Drink, Dance and Enjoy.
We recently partnered with our friends at Herederos del Marqués de Riscal winery from Spain to help you, our amazing readers, followers and friends be transported to Spain through a multisensory cultural immersion. Virtually of course. 😉
Let’s face it. We all likely wish we could be somewhere else, and have crazy #wanderlust. Are we right? So when Marqués de Riscal reached out to us to help spread the word about their 2 SKUs (a Rioja and a Rueda) now available at the LCBO, we knew EXACTLY how to do it. I mean, ideally we would all have woken up from this COVID-19 nightmare and just be able to experience a tasting at a local LCBO, but unfortunately that isn’t the case. But we were determined not to let that stop us–with safety first of course.
Instead, we partnered with some of Toronto’s very best to help YOU bring Spain into your own home. How, you ask? You’re about to find out… or likely have taken a hint from the multitude of stories that have already started flooding Instagram.
A Virtual Wine Tasting
That’s right! We hosted a Marqués de Riscal Virtual Wine Tasting on May 28th, co-hosted by Toronto’s very own @SuperWineGirl, outstanding sommelier and on-air wine expert, Angela Aiello. With a VERY SPECIAL guest, Jose Luis Muguiro, the new generation family owner of the Marqués de Riscal winery, to walk us through a wine tasting of their Marqués de Riscal Rueda DO blend, and Rioja Reserva (which both recently scored 94pts by the Globe and Mail AND the Toronto Star). Get a glimpse of the last one here.
But the fun didn’t stop there. To ensure everyone had a true cultural immersion, we shared this curated Spanish VIBES Spotify playlist, and you can either to visit a local LCBO to pick-up the two wines (for less than $50), or purchase a Spanish Tasting Kit from our partners at Eatertainment, available in two portion sizes. It includes, Spanish paella, Gazpacho, Grilled Octopus, Mushroom and Manchego Croquetas, Olives and Paprika spiced chips–with vegetarian and pescatarian options too (no red meat in all packages). Sounds delicious, right? It’s the perfect gift for any occasion to enjoy a night in, without cooking–and everyone gets to dig in! Don’t take our word for it… @TheCuriousCreature said it herself (in her stories). 😛
Order your wine for delivery from the LCBO or order your Spanish Tasting Kit from Eatertainment today! 😉
The Wines | ft. @SuperWineGirl
“These two wines from Marqués de Riscal are simply fabulous,” said Angela Aiello, the @Superwinegirl herself. “These two brother and sister wines are some of the best Spain has to offer. When pairing wine and food, always balance the heaviest flavours in the food with the acidity and tannin in wine. For white wine that is fresh and elegant like the Rueda, pair grilled octopus, croquettas and olives and with the Rioja, pair the spiced chips, and Spanish paella. Don’t think too hard about the pairings though, this menu is meant to mix and match and find your own perfect pairing.”
“Rueda is mostly a white wine producing region in Northwestern Spain and lies about 170kms northwest of the ever so popular city, Madrid. A beautiful flat land, with the Duero river flowing directly through it, the grapes and vineyards receive 2,700 hours of sunlight per year (in comparison, Canada receives 2,000 hours). There are long hot summers, cold winters and the soils are built for beautifully structured white wines with limestone, sand, pebbles and clay as their terroir. There are approximately 68-wineries and 16,000 hectares of vineyards planted at 600-780m above sea level. On the label you’ll see the region Rueda, and inside the bottle you’ll find a crisp, refreshing white wine made with the indigenous Verdejo grapes,” she added.Buy MdR Rueda DO Now | $14.50
“Verdejo is the main white grape of Rueda, this grape is originally from North Africa and was brought to Spain in the 11th century and is made into a dry, aromatic high-quality white wine. In the 1970s, the winemaking company Marqués de Riscal started to produce a fresher style of white wine and they haven’t looked back! An indigenous grape of Spain, the white wine is clean, crisp, and refreshing with stone fruits of peach, white flower, and citrus. The taste profile of this grape is a cross between an unoaked Chardonnay and a Sauvignon Blanc. Give it a try, you’re going to love it!” Talk about culture!
“Rioja, on the other hand, is probably the region you know and have heard about the most,” she confirms. “Located in the North Central part of the country and mostly a red wine region, producing rosé and white wine too, if you love Cabernet you’ll love Rioja wines. This region has amazing age worthy red wines, and is a bit of an underdog compared to California or Bordeaux. Most times you can even find older wines already aged to perfection without having to leave them in your cellar. Just 120 miles south of Bilbao, there are over 63,000 hectares of vineyards. You’ll find Rioja on the label and inside the bottle you’ll find mostly the grape Tempranillo and sometimes Garnacha. Although there are mostly red wines in this region, you may find some interesting whites as well! The words Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva on the bottle indicate how long a wine has been aged in oak and bottle. The ageing is carried out in oak barrels for a period ranging from 1 to 3 years, and later in the bottle itself for a period of 6 months to 6-years. This region also enables you to taste wines that have been aged by the winery, allowing you to taste reliable older wines that will help you appreciate the finer details and taste profiles of aged red wines.”Buy MdR Rioja Reserva Now | $26.70
Angela then explained that “Tempranillo (pronounced Temp-Prah-Nee-OH) is known for its early ripening (the word “temprano” means early in Spanish). Tempranillo is the most well-known and noble grape in Spain. Planted all over the country, it grows well in chalky soils. Filled with plum and strawberries, this grape is loved by many and is well known in Rioja. Marqués De Riscal is a balanced, smooth and delicious wine that many red wine lovers are bound to adore!” Sounds amazing, and once you pick these delicious wines up and try them for yourself, you will know exactly how good they really are.
The Eats | ft. @SebCentner
For those of you who are looking to spend less time in the kitchen, Eatertainment has you covered. Their absolutely delicious boxes are the perfect meal to pair with these excellent Wines from Spain; both the Marqués de Riscal Rioja and Rueda.
Speaking of which, we thought we would get it from “the horse’s mouth” and spoke with Sebastien Centner, @SebCentner–the Creative Director of Eatertainment and on-air entertaining expert, about why he chose these tapas dishes.
“When we were approached to produce the Spanish Tapas menu, we had two main goals when developing the mix of dishes. Firstly, the variety of dishes needed to capture the theme in its entirety,” said Sebastien. “But, we couldn’t just do paella… as this is only a part of what would be a full Spanish meal. We couldn’t just do Octopus as it too only represents one portion of the meal. The variety of dishes provide a sprinkling of Spanish flavours which is essentially what Tapas is all about, capturing lots of flavours and colours in a single meal. Secondly, we wanted to make sure the dishes were ideally paired with the two Marqués De Riscal wines and to do this the dishes needed variety. While the Rueda DO Blend (white) was the inspiration for our Octopus dish, the Rioja Reserva we felt was best suited to the paella. The rest of the dishes also worked into the overall balance of the two wines.”
Which all sounds amazingly delicious. Our biggest concern, much like many restaurants right now… how do we ensure that it will taste just as good at home, as it did in the test kitchen? Especially a paella. No one likes an overcooked, soggy paella. So we were curious how Sebastien’s team approved it.
“Indeed this can be a problem, however the best paellas in the world are (funny enough) the ones you get at the open street markets in Spain and often bought fully cooked, then refrigerated overnight and warmed up the next day. The trick to us is to cook the rice properly (not overcook it) and then be diligent about how you are warming it up, considering this particular menu was being sent for the recipients to warm up themselves,” Sebastien confirmed. “For me there are two ways to achieve this; either put everything in a large pan on the BBQ or the cooktop and slowly warm while adding about 1 Tbsp of light olive oil every 10 minutes while stirring, or you can instead take the paella mixture and warm it up in a pan on its own, then warm up the rice separately (with 2 Tbsp of water in the microwave for 1 min and then add the rice to the paella mixture.” Spoken like a true expert. He makes it sound so easy… but it really isn’t all that hard!
But the fun doesn’t stop there. We tasked his team with a tapas menu, and wondered, how does he choose what to pair. Hot or cold, and everything in between. So we asked him, is there a strategy to it? “We absolutely want to mix hot and cold dishes,” he stressed. “This plays into the differing textures and flavours of the experience and we rarely will do an all cold or all hot menu unless it is specifically called for (for example when the host doesn’t have access to warming equipment), but for a Spanish Tapas menu it absolutely should be a mix!” Perfect… just perfection.
But wait, every time we try to put a tapas meal together, we end up with a whole lot of big portions. How does an entertaining and catering expert approach that? Do you have a formula to it? “Honestly… I don’t 🙂 LOL!!! Really, there are two schools of thought in my opinion. 1. Most recipes are easily scalable up or down by dividing or multiplying the ingredients and adjusting cooking time but I personally prefer the second school of thought… 2. Leftovers are great! With a menu like this there is not one item that wouldn’t or couldn’t be enjoyed the next day (warmed or room temp) and I encourage this. The only issue (good problem of course)… is that you may need a couple more bottles of Marqués De Riscal!” Music to our ears…
The VIBE | ft. @StemsandForks and @AbhishekDekate
For this campaign, we reached out to two of our favourite foodies on Instagram to help pull together the visuals that embody the true VIBE we were going for. Of course, they didn’t prove us wrong. Have you seen the delicious photo up top? So when we sat down with them for some advice, this is what came up.
We all love following both of your adventures, travels and visits to local restaurants. When dining in, especially during these times, how do you bring that restaurant VIBE back into your homes?
Here’s how Abhishek approaches it:
1. Select a theme
Figure out what you want to eat first and then revolve everything else around it. Create an ambiance that sets the mood. Use this as an opportunity to think outside of the box and do something fun/interactive/unique. The sky’s the limit here.
Now that you’ve picked out a theme, find items that fit within that theme and decorate your space. You don’t have to go too crazy but bringing in little elements here and there can really add to the overall at home dining experience.
3. Create a menu
Just like a restaurant, create a menu for you and your loved ones. I like to create a little prix fixe menu separating the different courses.
4. Dress the part
Yes, this one is the most important. You won’t show up to a nice restaurant in sweat pants will you? Pick out a nice outfit from your closet and dress as if you’re actually stepping out of your house to go for a meal. It’ll make the evening that much more special.
All great points!
Betty, of @StemsandForks, added that, “Good tunes, ambient lighting and flowers all help create a beautiful atmosphere conducive to creating a night out, at home. All these elements contribute in multiple ways, in tantalizing one’s senses and making the experience feel unique.”
“Turn down your lights and light a few candles. Try playing a different type of music you would normally listen to. Something fun yet relaxing.” All great points she made.
“Flowers are a must to make that wine experience from home feel like an opulent event. Even plucking a stem or two from the garden plunked in a bud vase goes a long way,” Betty added. Who knew it could be that easy? 😉
But let’s face it. It’s not just as simple as cooking up a storm. Plating and presentation goes a long way. So we asked Abhishek for some suggestions for the folks at home? “We eat with our eyes first. Always. For me, not only does the food need to taste good, it must look visually appealing as well. After all, it adds to the full sensory experience!” And he’s sooo right!
“When plating, I like to keep it simple. When you overthink it, it doesn’t end up looking the way you want it to.” he added.
Here are some tips Abhishek uses when plating for the ‘gram:
- Choose the right plate as this acts as your canvas.
- Serve smaller portion sizes.
- Play with colours and different textures.
- Create height. The taller the food… You know how it goes.
- Use fresh herbs for garnishes. A little pop of green on top of your plate goes a long way!
- Most important tip: have fun! There is no right or wrong way to plating.
These are great! But we were curious what his date night VIBE essentials are… he said, “My most important date night VIBE essentials are…”
- Candles and/or a diffuser
- A good playlist because music always sets a mood
- Bottle of wine, preferably red
On the other hand, we were curious how Betty’s perspective would differ…
So we asked her what she loves most about dining out. She said, “As a mother and the one that does pretty much all the cooking in the house, going out is a reprieve from washing up and doing dishes! The other reason I love to dine out is trying out different types of cuisines, flavours and experiences.”
She’s so bang on–we totally agree with her too! I mean, who DOES like cleaning up, right? I guess the next step for us here, is figuring out a solution to dirty dishes. But then again, you could always do take out and disposable eco-friendly dishes. But we’re not quite sure it would be the same, would it?
Now all you have to do is head out and try it for your self. Wether with the Eatertainment Spanish Tasting Kit, the Marqués de Riscal wines on their own, or if you decide to cook up a Spanish feast, we are sure the Marqués de Riscal wines won’t let you regret it. 😉 Salud!
Cover photo: Abhishek Dekate (@abhishekdekate) for Marqués de Riscal