There are food and wine pairings so singular, it’s hard to stray from them. Like chèvre and Sancerre in France, tomato sauce and Sangiovese in Italy, or paella and Tempranillo in Spain. Once you partake, the flavors are etched in your mind. They meld with the people and place. I’ve caught myself reminiscing…remembering that meal, that wine, that town.
There’s a reason regions make certain food to go with their wines.
This month the French #Winophiles break that mold, exploring food that pulls flavors from different cultures then pairs them with French wine. I headed to Spain and Argentina and chose a dish that’s easy to make. At it’s simplest, it pairs with many French wines. From there, you can add components to transport the flavors of this country dish to different cultures.
There are few pleasures as enjoyable as eating a Tortilla Española while enjoying a glass of wine. The standard Tortilla is simple: pan fried potatoes with onions, eggs, and salt. The potatoes are cooked in oil, which coats your palate and adds richness and mouth feel.
My favorite way to increase its unctuousness is by adding additional items: caramelizing the onions, adding Spanish Smoked Paprika or Merken, an Argentinian spice blend with a smoky side, or topping a tortilla with avocado. And a trick is to error on the side of undercooking so it’s oozy in the middle. Once taken off the stove it will firm a bit when cooling and if reheated, won’t be dried out.
With the plethora of grape varieties and wine styles in France you’ve got a lot to choose from when it comes to pairing a Spanish Potato Omelet with wine. Here are some of my favorites:
From France I look towards the Corbières AOC in the Languedoc-Roussillon region or the Bandol AOC in the southern Rhone Valley.
Why this works: Pan-frying the Tortilla creates satisfying, homey flavors and increases richness. The wine is fresh and crisp with acidity that cuts through the fatty components of the dish, balancing them.
Domaine Fontsainte Corbières Rosé Gris de Gris – Affordable and pleasing at about $14.95
Domaine du Gros ‘Noré Bandol Rosé – Live a little with this blend of 40% Mourvèdre, 40% Cinsault, 20% Grenache. From $25 to $35
Preferably from Entre-Deux-Mers which is un-oaked or minimally aged in oak, and with no/minimal lees stirring, or from Graves which can have a touch of oak and lees stirring.
Why this works: The two main grapes in White Bordeaux are Sauvignon Blanc (SB) and Semillon. These are nothing like the SBs from the Loire Valley or as pungent as those in New Zealand. SB brings fresh crispness and acidity (citrus) while Semillon adds a slight creaminess and fruity/floral aromas. These wines are crisp with a soft richness; their flavors play on the rustic Tortilla aspects, especially if you add caramelized onions and sliced or mashed avocado.
Clos Floridene Graves ($30)
Chateau de Fontenille Blanc, Entre-deux-Mers ($15)
SOUTHERN RHONE REDS
(Côtes du Rhône, Côtes du Rhône Villages AOCs and others)
Why this works: Grenach, Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault and Carianne are primary grapes in these wines. When made in a medium style, they contain fruity, bright richness with an earthy, herby, and some times smoky component. The flavors and medium tannins work well with the rustic Tortilla. There are many great value wines in this area, including these three for any day of the week drinking.
Alain Jaume et Fils – Les Gélinottes Syrah-Grenache, Ventoux AOC ($12-$15)
Guigal – Côtes du Rhône Rouge ($12 – $15)
Pierre Amadieu – Vinsobres Les Piallats ($18 – $20)
The nice thing about the Tortilla Española is its versatility. If you prefer red wine, use the Smoked Paprika and/or Merken. A drizzle of quality olive oil will heighten the pairing as will Romesco Sauce. Here’s a great Romesco recipe from Elise Bauer at Simply Recipes.
If you prefer Rosé, throw in lots of caramelized onions and top a piece of warm tortilla with a mild Spanish goat cheese like Monte Enebro, or go the earthier route with Manchego.
And if White Bordeaux is speaking to you, add the onions, cook your tortilla less, so it’s oozy and moist, and serve on a slice of toasted crostini.
Here’s an easy Tortilla recipe, but first, take a peek at the food and French wine pairings from the other French #Winophiles below!
- 1 large onion, cut in half root to end, then thinly sliced into half moons (about 1 cup) (if caramelizing the onions, you’ll need 2 cups)
- 2 pounds (about 1 kilo) Potatoes
- 8 eggs
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Peel the potatoes and rinse them under cold water.
- Pat the potatoes dry then thinly slice (a mandolin works great). Put them into a large bowl, sprinkle with salt, add the onions and mix well. *If caramelizing the onions, see note below.
- Heat a ½-inch of oil in a large frying pan over medium to medium-high heat. Carefully place the potato onion mixture into the pan, spreading them evenly.
- When the oil is hot, add the potatoes and add more oil if necessary until they are barely covered.
- Cook the potatoes, stirring here and there, for about 15 minutes or so. If you can poke a piece of potato and it easily breaks in two, they are done.
- Remove them with a slotted spoon into a strainer to cool and allow any excess oil to drain. (Place a plate underneath to catch the oil and you can use it again.)
- While the mixture is draining, beat the eggs in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper.
- After a few minutes, add the potatoes to the egg mixture and stir well.
- Pour 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil into 10-inch, non-stick frying pan and heat on medium heat. When hot enough, stir the potato-onion mixture once more in the bowl and pour into the pan, spreading evenly. You may need to turn heat to medium-low.
- Allow the egg to cook around the edges. Then, using a spatula, carefully lift up one side of the tortilla to check if the egg has slightly browned. The inside of the mixture should not be completely cooked and the egg will still be runny on top and in middle.
- Take a large plate and put it over the pan, put the palm of your hand firmly on the plate and flip quickly!
- Slide the tortilla (which should still be a bit runny, that’s good) back into the pan. Use the spatula to shape the sides of the omelet if necessary.
- Let the omelet cook for three to four minutes. Turn the heat off and let the tortilla sit in the pan for two minutes.
- Slide out of the pan onto a serving plate and enjoy with a glass of your favorite wine.
- *If caramelizing the onions, fry in a separate frying pan over medium low heat for about 10 minutes until they begin to caramelize and turn brown. You will cook the potatoes without the onions, then top a tortilla slice with caramelized onions.
The French #Winophiles crossed several borders. Check out where they went!
- Martin from Enofylz Wine Blog pairs Bordeaux with Cajun and Italian Classics
- Michelle from Rockin’ Red Blog asks Do Empanadas Bordeaux?
- Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla will match A Vin de Pays d’Oc Chardonnay and an Edible Mollusc from Monterey
- Gwendolyn of Wine Predator highlights Cross-Cultural Pairings: Mexican Mole with French Wine
- Jane from Always Ravenous takes us to the islands with Chicken Colombo: A Blend of Caribbean Flavors from the French West Indies
- Jill of L’occasion describes A World of Flavors in Marseille
- Peter from The Wine Analyst delves into Food & Wine – Moroccan Chicken Pastilla
- Jeff from FoodWineClick! reports as Loire Valley Wines Take the Spicy Thai Challenge
- Lauren at The Swirling Dervish enjoys A Feast for the Senses: Viognier and Indian Spices