Spanish Wine: Photo by Laren SpirerIt has always been one of our dreams to live in Spain. Be it the food, the wine or the flamenco dancing, this magical land, home of the siesta, has always held a special place in our hearts. While we haven’t been able to pack up and move just yet, we got a little taste of it recently at the P.J. Wines Spanish Wine Festival. It may have been a tease, but it sure whet our appetite for Spanish wines.

Spanish wines are full of depth and character – they balance bold fruit, spices and leather notes with a smooth velvet texture. In fact, there is some speculation that the Tempranillo grape may be an ancestor of the Pinot Noir grape. From lighter Riojas to more complex blends from the Ribera del Duero, Spanish wines are the perfect way to mix things up if you have fallen in that ever treacherous wine slump.

We tried some amazing wines at the festival. Some wines were extremely expensive (probably the only time we will get to try that ’62 Gran Reserva) and some were extremely affordable. The good news is that Spanish wines tend to be a great value.

1996 Contino Vina del Olivo, Rioja, Spain, $79.99
The finish on this wine went on after we had left the table – truly amazing. There were intense fruit notes balanced with spice notes.

2004 “Los Monteros” Blanco, Valencia, Spain, $7.99
This white is the perfect wine to add to your summertime arsenal. It’s exotic, spicy and full of personality. This is a great white wine to pair with seafood or raw oysters.

1999 Real Sitio de Ventosilla “Prado Rey Reserva”, Riberia del Duero, Spain, $30.99
This wine was bursting with intense fruit notes like blueberry and plum but the texture was smooth velvet. Balanced yet intense this is a wine that would shine with Spanish cuisine.

Tapas: Photo by Laren SpirerAnd then there was the food. Some of our favorite Spanish restaurants provided tapas for the evening, further feeding our dream to move to Spain (bad pun fully intended). La Nacional's tortilla española was just as perfect as we remembered from our last visit. Although we were disappointed that their finger-licking-good garlic shrimp didn't make an appearance, we were able to find solace in a taste of tender short ribs from Scott Campbell's @SQC. Dessert, a spiced-wine based sopa de frutas from Suba, with berries and apple cider foam was a perfect finish to the evening. Well, at least until we got our hands on the sherry. Ah, Spain.

(co-authored by Laren Spirer)