The start of summer grilling season is here and cooking over a fire is thirsty work so make sure you have plenty of refreshing Spanish and Portuguese beer on hand. Beer makes a wonderful accompaniment to cooking, even if you have plans to drink wine with the meal (when visiting the Bodegas in Spain the winemakers always say “Before we try the wines, would you like a beer?”). We have a new reach-in refrigerator in Berkeley so now we are keeping all the beer cold and ready to drink. Here are a few suggestions to get you going:
Sagres is the most popular beer in Portugal. This lager style beer is refreshing and crisp. It features predominantly at the various Portuguese festas that take place all across California in the summer and is almost mandatory if you are grilling up some fresh sardines in the Portuguese style. Available in 6 packs of glass bottles or single half liter cans.
Catalunya’s largest brewery, Damm, recently released a new beer designed by Chef Ferran Adria and his team of sommeliers from El Bulli restaurant. The end result of two years of experimentation is Estrella Damm Inedit. Made in a style resembling Belgian wit beers or one of our domestic hefeweizen wheat beers, Inedit is a cloudy amber color with creamy texture and yeasty flavor adding context to lightly spicy notes of citrus peel, coriander and clove. Craft brew lovers will appreciate this unique style of Spanish beer sold in full sized 750 ml bottles.
Daura is the gluten free version of Estrella Damm. This golden lager style beer, made with barley instead of wheat, is crisp and refreshing. It currently holds the title of “best gluten free beer in the world”. Try it with your favorite tapas for a refreshing taste of Catalunya. 4 packs of 11.2 oz bottles.
We have several distinctive and fabulous Portuguese wines from the Vinho Verde region located along Portugal’s northern border with Spain. Traditionaly thought of as the home of fun, fizzy,non-vintage picnic wines, Vinho Verde can also make elegant varietal wines in a range of styles including rosé and red wines. Here are a few of our favorites:
2010 Muralhas Rosé Vinho Verde
Adegas de Moncao makes top notch Vino Verde wines that are very popular in Portugal. They make vintage dated wines (unlike the mass market versions that are non-vintage)from high quality fruit. The 2010 Muralhas de Moncao Rose is made from a blend of indigenous varieties including Alvarelhao, Pedral and Vinhao. This refreshing low alcohol (11.5%) rosé displays fresh berry aroma and citrusy fruit character carried along by the same slight effervescence of the traditional white Vinho Verde. $12.99
2009 Afros Vinhao
Here is a fine example of the rare and elusive red Vinho Verde. Afros is made from the Vinhao grape, distinctive for having red flesh as well as red skin. Afros Vinhao is very dark, inky dark, and, true to style, is slightly effervescent. Youthful, cranberry fruit character and assertive grape skin tannins make for a nervy, taut wine with expressive character. $15.99
2008 Dorado Alvarinho
Marcial Dorado makes this excellent 100% Alvarinho Vinho Verde. After searching in vain for the perfect Albarino vineyard in Spain, he crossed the Minho River and bought a vineyard of 70 year old Alvarinho located just above the little town of Melgaco where he also built a small gravity fed (no pumping of wine from tank to tank) winery called Quinta do Feital. The unoaked ‘Dorado’, the flagship of the winery, is rich with melon and pear aromas and flavors. Bright acidity punctuates the ripe fruit character, creating a long, lingering finish. $24.99
Don’t forget about our tasting in Mill Valley with Cune on May 26th from 6-8 pm! There are only a few spots left and they’re filling up fast. Aside from the lineup of their current releases we’ll be tasting through a number of their Gran Reservas from the ’70s and even one from 1928(!!!).