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About this Episode

Grace Hood, wine educator and certified sommelier, joins Robert Tas to talk Spanish food and wine in this episode of CorkRules. Together they explore the wine list of La Barra, a Spanish tapas restaurant that offers many beloved dishes from tapas bars all around Spain, including classics and regional favorites. Grace explores the list and shares her knowledge of Spanish wines, sherry, and of course, the best bottles on the list, including a white Rioja. 

Wines reviewed include:

  • Enric Soler Xarel-lo from Penedes, 2017
  • Vina Gravonia from Rioja producer Lopez de Heredia, 2009
  • Castillo de Ygay Gran Reserva from Marques de
Transcript: La Barra

RT: Hello and Welcome to CorkRules! 

A podcast where (in each episode) we will review a wine list from your favorite restaurants. I’m your host Robert Tas along with Grace Hood, wine educator and certified sommelier. Hello Grace, it’s great to have you!

GH: Hola Roberto! Como estas?

RT: Bien bien! Before we jump in, let’s talk about CorkRules. We created CorkRules to demystify wine lists because we know from experience, that sometimes when we get that list handed to us, well… it can be intimidating, and even a little daunting.

Our aim is to help prepare you to navigate that list, find those hidden gems, or value wines or that special bottle that will take your dining experience over the top. So, sit back and listen as we review your favorite wine list. So, Grace today we will be reviewing the wine list of the Spanish tapas restaurant, La Barra.

GH: I am very excited to be talking all things Spanish food and wine! Early in my wine career, I was the sommelier for Casa Mono in Union Square which has an all-Spanish wine list and menu. The flavors and culture of Spanish cuisine es delisioso!!

RT: I’m right there with you. I love Spain. So where do we start on this wine list?

GH: So first and foremost, I love how they have designed this wine menu. It is very user-friendly, in that not only is it an approachable 3 pages, but at the top of every page it has a key or a legend, like you would see on a regular topography map, but instead of mountains and rivers, they have color coded icons that correspond with the wines on the list, which can help you identify what style of wine that is going to be. They separate them into the 5 normal wine categories - sparkling, white, rose, red and fortified. And then break it down even further into the body which they have classified as light, fruity, mature, and full-bodied. I love seeing a well thought out wine list that aims to empower the guest to give them the best dining experience

RT: Wow that is really unique! How helpful!

GH: I absolutely agree. And this is a great excuse to talk about a lesser popular style of wine that people don’t usually order - fortified wines, which when you break it down, is a regular table wine that a spirit has been added to it either during or after the fermentation process. The spirit is usually another grape product like brandy or cognac, and what that does not only halt the fermentation process, but kicks the alcohol up significantly. The process was originally created back in the days before refrigeration and air tight bottling, so it was a way to preserve the wine. Spain’s has a deep history when it comes to fortified wines - dating back to the Phoenicians in the BC times!

RT: Another great wine history lesson!

MV: Totally - Spain has been at the forefront of producing their famous fortified wine, Sherry - which comes in a few different styles. ranging from light versions such as ManzaNULLlo and Fino, to darker and heavier versions that have been allowed to oxidize as they age in barrel, such oloroso and amontillado.

RT: Wow amazing - I had no idea there were multiple kinds of sherry. Do they classically pair well with food? They must if they’re made in Spain.

GH: Of course they do! ManzaNULLla is the lightest style and would pair well with raw seafood and even sushi or sashimi. Fino is still light but has more complex aromas and would make a great pairing for all kinds of tapas - rich cheeses, olives, Jamon - basically anything you would see on a charcuterie board. Amontillado is deeper and more nutty and would go with more savory ingredients like poultry, mushrooms, risotto and lots of vegetable dishes. And then your darkest heaviest sherry would be oloroso and that is able to stand up to rich heavy foods like foie gras, lamb and pork.

RT: So cool. Sherry doesn’t get enough love for sure. Thank you for that really interesting lesson, Grace. Now, what about some table wines from La Barra?

GH: You got it. So on the light white side, I would go with either of the 2017’s Enric Soler Xarel-lo from Penedes. Xarel-lo is a traditional Spanish varietal grown in Catalonia and is one of the 3 grapes they use in making their famous sparkling wine, cava. However, Xarel-lo on its own is light aromatic crispy and pairs fantastically with Spanish seafood. If you wanted to go with a heavier white, I would pick the 2009 Vina Gravonia from legendary Rioja producer Lopez de Heredia. White Riojas are one of the only white wines in the world that benefit from aging, and I was lucky enough to try this exact wine, but from a 1942 vintage! It's really rare to find a white wine that can age that well, so it was a really special experience.

RT: Wow a 1942 white wine?? How unique! What about some reds Grace? There's so many great selections on the menu.

GH: There seriously are. One that really stuck out to me was the 1998 Monte Real Gran Reserva from B. Riojanas. And at that price point, a 24-year-old Rioja is going to be mwah chef's kiss. Or if you wanted to go with an even deeper richer red, I would go with the 2009 Castillo de Ygay Gran Reserva from Marques de Murrieta.

RT: Amazing! Thank you so much Grace for helping us navigate the La Barra wine list. To our audience, thank you all for joining us here on CorkRules.  If you would like us to review one of your favorite restaurants, please send us email to: Info@corkrules.com or visit our web website where we have a request form available and we will do our best to get it in the queue as quickly as possible.

We are looking forward to being with you on another CorkRules episode soon. In the meantime, please check out our website for other episodes of your favorite restaurant wine lists. Follow us on social media @corkrules and @wineswithgrace

And finally, drink what you love and please make sure you drink responsibly.

Thank you.





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