Jean Leon | Wine

Clos de la pizza, Château de macarrones, Viña del arroz a la cubana

By Sergi Castro

Ah, those days when I could do glamorous pairings for you (although I always went for simplicity). Those lunches full of effort, with 15-course menus…

And now, well, stuck at home, going out to buy only what’s strictly necessary, covered up and protected… Luckily, I have a cupboard-cum-cellar at home where I have some interesting wines stashed away. But even though I like to cook, I have neither the tools nor the knowledge to whip up “mantis shrimp foam over Thai coconut milk flavored with crispy Alaskan king crab shavings and lemongrass chips.” And, like all of you, I’m back to enjoying comfort food such as arroz a la cubana [rice and a fried egg, served with tomato sauce and sometimes banana or plantain] made with tomate frito sauce straight from the can (and I fried not only an egg but a plantain as well, for a touch of glamor), a plate of penne au gratin prepared with ready-made bechamel sauce from a pack about to expire, and some chickpeas with spinach and pork rib that I’m particularly proud of…

I imagine that, as far as food is concerned, you’re probably in more or less the same situation. And with the whole family at home, you’re wracking your brains twice a day to try to create varied, nutritionally balanced, healthy meals. Remember that moms and grandmas are an endless source of homemade recipes, recipes for cooking with pulses and making the most of what’s in the cupboards!

And what about the wine? By now you’ve gone through the stocks of wine you had in the house. Those bottles you’d been saving, that you’d forgotten about… So now what?

Well, you can find almost all the wines on the market in online wine shops, which will go perfectly with those dishes you’re preparing and help make being stuck at home a little more pleasant. So, it’s not a problem to find wines that pair perfectly with what we’re making at home if that’s what you’re looking for.

We won’t necessarily talk about brands, but rather varieties, areas, and types of wine that can help you to enjoy things even more.

The first tip I’d give you is to be adventurous and try wines that you’ve never tried before. Maybe a variety you’re not familiar with, or a new appellation of origin, or one with a striking label that always caught your eye but you’d never taken a chance on. Now’s the time to try new things!

Which wines go well with tomato sauce? Young red wines with a Garnacha base. The majority of the red wines from Terra Alta, Priorat, Empordà, or Penedès would work wonderfully, whether with a simple plate of spaghetti, arroz a la cubana, a traditional pizza, or noodle casserole. A Merlot would also work well (Jean Leon 3055 comes to mind now, but I’m not saying anything!).

Be creative with salads. It’s the easiest way to incorporate portions of fruits and vegetables during these days, and they always go well with a glass of rosé or white wine.

Save the young, fresh, light whites for fish, sautéed vegetables, or even grilled chicken or rabbit.

For cannelloni, penne au gratin, or any baked pasta dish, it’s best to look for white with a little more body and a little more aging. Wines with a Chardonnay, Garnacha Blanca, or Xarel·lo base, aged in oak, would be perfect.

Eat and drink (in moderation) and take advantage of these days to enjoy the things you always complain you don’t have time for in everyday life. And be patient: “Even the longest night was followed by a morning.”

Sergi Castro
Sommelier