Fall in Love with Spanish Wine

Falling in love could not be easier!

Sip a Spanish wine perfectly paired with the fine cuisine of Greg Norman’s Australian Grille in North Myrtle Beach, SC. Continue sipping through seven courses of a Wines of Spain Dinner. It’s the setting for falling in love.

A recent wine dinner hosted by general manager Peter Dombrowski featured Spanish Vines, the brainchild of Josh Hackler, and the tastes of Spain were presented with panache while diners sampled one delicacy after another from the kitchen of Chef Steve Allen.

Josh Hackler with Chef Steve Allen

After spending a semester abroad in Oviedo, Spain, Hackler founded Spanish Vines in 2006. Among the youngest company presidents in the wine and food industry, he was still an undergraduate student at the University of South Carolina. The company sold five wines wholesale to restaurants and stores in North and South Carolina. Spanish Vines expanded its portfolio to 18 brands from 10 Spanish wineries and is selling to distributors in Georgia, Virginia, Tennessee, and Nevada. The growing importer and provider of authentic Spanish wine and food products in the United States has a central goal — to become a leading national ethnic food and beverage brand. Just now in his mid-20s, Hackler pursues his love of Spain and its wines from his home in New York, although frequently jetting between Spain , his Myrtle Beach-based family and his Columbia-based company.

Hors d’ Oeuvres included Lamb Empanadas, Beef Carpaccio and Paella-Stuffed Cherry Peppers paired with Enate Crianza (2004). The combination of 70 percent Tempranillo and 30 percent Cabernet Sauvignon delivered a light cherry with a rich toasty finish. It’s aged in oak from nine to 18 months before bottling. A few diners ordered a case of this smooth delicious wine before being seated for dinner.

Enate is a large winery, yet producing small quantities with handpicking of the grapes and close attention to detail, and the family-owned company emphasizes a rich love of art.

The second course of Chicken and Chorizo Chowder was a large serving of rich thick goodness which could be a meal in itself any day. The wine was Senorio de Rubios Albarino (2008) which was a soft white marrying perfectly with the spiciness of the soup. It would also pair well with any local cuisine, similar to the specialties of Spain, such as spicy mussels, clams or calamari.

The third course of Pulpo Gallego was not easily identified by most diners, although the rich and garlicky chewy appetizer was widely complimented. The octopus is a signature dish of the Galicia region of Spain.  The Enate Chardonnay (2008) was the perfect pairing offering a nice minerality aspect and no heavy oak hints. This wine was a silver medal winner in the 2009 World Competition of Chardonnays in France.

Intermezzo was Sangria with Brandied Apples. It was a simple and refreshing touch between courses. The lovely fruits were so irresistible that everyone abandoned etiquette for fingers or forks dipping into the martini glass.

Trout Navarre with Fingerling Medallions was the fourth course paired with Enate Rosado (2008) with full body and perfect acidity in this fruity Cabernet Sauvignon. Nothing typical of Rose, this wine has been called the best Rose of Spain. The ’04, ’06 and ’08 vintages have received prestigious awards.

The fifth course was Lamb Confit with Braised Purple Cabbage. It was paired with La Ninota (2005) from Priorato which is the largest wine-growing region in the world. Representing all red varieties of the region, the complex minerality included Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Garnacha, Mazuelo and Merlot.

As food is the center of life for Spaniards, the sixth course of Marinated Filet of Pork with Spiced Turnip Root Puree was a central highlight of this wine dinner. It was paired with Venta Del Puerto No. 12, Valencia (2006). It is a blend of four grape varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Merlot and Syrah.

Then there was dessert of Peach-scented Sponge Cake in Warm Vanilla Cream Sauce paired with a Moscatel, La Loca from Valencia. The sweet sparkle of tropical fruit is created with a natural tank fermentation and no added sugar.

What an outstanding opportunity for education in the origin and production of fine Spanish wines was this dinner by Spanish Vines. Greg Norman’s Australian Grill frequently hosts wine dinners which are learning experiences for the expert or the novice taster, and the showcase of the cuisine also is a treat for foodies and friends. Gracias!

Sip some Spanish wine, and as Hackler suggests, it’s the beginning of a beautiful affair.

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