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About this Episode

Maria Valetta, certified sommelier, also known as Maria The Wine Blonde, and Robert Tas try a little tapas in Las Vegas, but more importantly, they review the wine list at Julian Serrano at the Aria Casino and Resort. The wine list at this restaurant is mostly Spanish and hosts a delicious selection of wines. Maria offers expert opinions on malbecs, must-trys and value wines, in addition to offering the perfect pairing for paella.

Wines reviewed include:

  • 2020 Rías Baixas, Albariño, Leirana, Forjas del Salnes

  • 2019 Ribera del Duero, Psi, Peter Sisseck

  • 2013 Ribera del Duero, Valbuena #5, Bodegas Vega, Sicilia

Transcript: Julian Serrano

Julian Serrano Aria Casino and Resort

Robert Tas (RT): Hello and welcome back to CorkRules! The wine podcast that’s here to help YOU navigate all your favorite restaurant wine lists so you can learn to order wine with confidence.

I’m Robert Tas, along with Maria Valetta, certified sommelier, also known as Maria The Wine Blonde. Welcome back Maria

MV: Hola Robert! Finally, we get to review a Spanish Restaurant wine list… I have been looking forward to this! I’m so excited!

RT: I’m too  but first let’s talk a little CorkRules

RT: Today we are reviewing the wine list from Julian Serrano Tapas in the Aria Casino and resort in Las Vegas. Chef Serrano’s eponymous restaurant is large, open, and colorful. Expect lots of reds and oranges not only in the décor but on your plates as well. The menu, features traditional Spanish Tapas plates in small presentation form, but the flavors are big and bold with a modern twist. Sangrias and Spanish Wines dominate the beverage selections, in fact, all of the featured sangrias spend 3 days marinating and integrating all their ingredients. It’s this attention to detail that also makes it a top destination on the Vegas strip for Paella done right. Maria, let’s check out this wine list and pick out some fantastic wines to pair with the paella, I am sure you have had that there, right?

MV: I sure have! And yes they do Paella perfectly, you always get those crispy bits of rice called soccarrat which is the most important and key flavor when it comes to properly cooked paella. The Mixta is my favorite because you get a little bit of everything, Chicken, seafood, vegetables, Chorizo.

RT: Sounds so unbelievably tasty - Well now what do you think of this wine list?

MV: I think it is done well Robert, they have over 20 wines by the glass plus the sangria (remember the base of sangria IS WINE), the bottle selection rightly focuses on Spain which makes me happy and they have some incredibly older hard to find vintages of Spanish Reds, but you also have wines from around the world.

RT: Sounds well thought out, So which wines buy the glass should we start with?

MV: For white, Vino por Copa try the Bierzo, Godello, El Zarzal, Emilio Moro

$18 The grape here is Godello it’s a very high-quality variety and is thankfully being grown by more and more producers in  Northwestern Spain as it was on the verge of distinction in the 1970s. I love this grape, I love the rounded mouthfeel, the tropical flavors, and the mineral intensity. A great cheese wine and perfect with veggie dishes. 

And for my Redheads LOL! The Tempranillo, Torres, Celeste Crianza, Ribera del Duero, Tempranillo is Spain's most widely planted grape variety, this is A younger wine, we know this because it is labeled Crianza meaning the wine spends just 2 years aging, this one spent a year in oak and another year aging in bottle. Fruit is still fresh but concentrated, Carne and paella are your best bets with this wine.

RT: Great suggestions, Anything that our listeners must try?

MV: YES! Sherry! They have some sherry by the glass I love this! It makes my tastebuds happy. I fell in love with Sherry when we visited Sevilla, they drink it everywhere there because Jerez where sherry is produced is right nearby. Try the Amontillado Seco, E. Lustau, Los Arcos, Jerez de la Frontera $12

Sherry is a fortified wine so it’s stronger – so be careful! the multi-step aging process is unlike any other wine. Now the first sip you might not love, but give it a chance, pair with something salty like Marcona almonds, Manchego cheese or Iberico ham and watch how it changes. You’ll get a lot of nutty flavors,  almonds, hazelnuts, with dried herbs and a hint of fresh salty air in your glass. They should serve it slightly chilled and I personally like this with tapas at the beginning of the meal.

RT: I hope everyone takes your advice and gives it a try. Now can you find us some great Spanish wines that hit the value mark?

MV: Let’s see, I do wish they had more depth in the Spanish white section, but the Rías Baixas, Albariño, Leirana, Forjas del Salnes  2020 is good bet for under $80 Albarinos are a natural with Spanish style seafood.

RT: Grilled Octopus and Albarino sounds good to me! Now I’m sure there are more to choose from for reasonable  reds

MV: there are,–  the Ribera del Duero, Psi, Peter Sisseck 2019 $108 Sure they also have peter’s coveted Pingus and Flor de Pingus wines the former which would be in the splurge category and the latter a fair price, but, the PSI is the most reasonable while still providing an amazing Spanish wine experience. But I would also say if you want to step it up the Flor de Pingus 2019 would be worth it.

Also a good bang for your buck

Malbec, Viña Cobos, 'Bramare', Lujan de Cuyo, (Luhan de Cuzgho) Mendoza 2019 [BIN - 33205 - CAB39]

So I skipped over and down to Argentina because Malbecs are also fantastic with Spanish tapas. Vina Cobos is owned by the famous winemaker Paul Hobbs, deep  Purple in color, fresh black and red berries, a peppery spice a lot of wine for under $100


RT: Fantastic selections! Now how about a celebration wine for our big pan of paella?

MV: So as mentioned above the Pingus would be a good fit, but they also they have Unico’s 2nd wine the Ribera del Duero, Valbuena #5, Bodegas Vega-Sicilia 2013 which at just under $500 is less than half the price of the Iconic and collectible Unico by the over 155-year-old winery. (which they do also have a few vintages of.) Aged 5 years before release hence the meaning of the 5 in its name, (half that of the Unico) the Valbuena has now also had its time in the cellar at the restaurant and is ready to drink.  I would suggest you ask that they decant this one first to help it open to its full potential.

RT: I like that you mentioned that as sometimes restaurants forget to ask you if you want something decanted and there’s nothing wrong with asking!

MV: NOT at all!

RT: Well, gracias Maria for sharing all of your wine highlights from Julian Serrano’s wine list

Be sure to follow Maria on Instagram @Mariathewineblonde. Thank you everyone for joining us here on CorkRules. Remember the only rule in wine is “drink what you LOVE”.

MV: Have a favorite wine list? Let us review it here. Send us your requests at info@CorkRules.com You can find previous episodes on your favorite podcast platform and on

CorkRules.com be sure to subscribe and like. And check out @CorkRules on Instagram for episode updates and upcoming giveaways. Must be 21 and older, please drink responsibly.












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