Spain’s third-largest city, is emerging from the shadows of Barcelona and
Madrid and fast becoming the go-to destination in Spain. Located on the
Mediterranean coast and possessed of beautiful old neighborhoods and modern
architecture, Valencia is a city that effortlessly mixes the traditional and
the modern

In the past,
tourists went to Valencia in search of its famous paella, which,
trust me, you should definitely find.  These days, however, the city has
more than just paella in its gastronomic repertoire, earning Valencia a
reputation as Spain’s next great dining destination, and
recognition for the distinctive wines produced in the region. 

Valencia is
as famous for its fishing ports as its rice paddies, so
seafood, such as sardines,
hake, red mullet, anglerfish, octopus, mackerel, cuttlefish, mussels, shrimp
and prawns, is plentiful. Though I eat some fish, I’m not the biggest fan of
seafood, and there are some things on the list I wasn’t going to indulge
in.  However, because I did want to make sure that I went out of my
comfort zone a bit and tried something other than paella, I did sample some to
the fish found in the region.  Besides, I couldn’t wait to pair the fish with
some of the regional wines.

The Manzanilla
Pasada Pastro
gives off aromas of dried fruit and toast, but has a slightly
acidic palate, making it the perfect compliment to mackerel, a common type
of fish found in Valencia
, and which I came across on many restaurant


Azul 2009 is the color of straw, with notes of
white fruits and honey. The elegant white wine has slight smoky notes, but with
good acidity and a nice finish, and it paired well with cod.

Photo credit: Google images
Not wanting
to limit my Valencian wine and food experience to fish and white wines, and
because I do like a big, bold red, I thought I’d try a daring red wine and a
dish to go with it.  Enter the ox cheek. I am not an adventurous
, and prefer to stick to variations on beef, pork and chicken, so I
gave the waiter the side-eye when he made that suggestion.  However, he
assured me that the pairing of this cut of meat and the wine would not
disappoint, and with the ever-present thought that, at the very least, it would
make a good blog post, I tried it. A bold cut of meat like ox cheek needs a
strong wine to compliment it and the Bassus Pinot Noir Utiel Requena fit
the bill. Characterized by a strong aroma that is a combination of red fruits,
vanilla and oak, the red fruits are also noted in the palate.

After taking
way too long to chew a few forkfuls of the cheek, I pushed the plate away, but
I kept the Requena close.  Though the ox cheek was not to my liking, I did
agree that it went nicely with the Requena.

Opting for
another glass of the Requena, the chocolate molten cake was the dessert of
choice that night. 
red wine and a balmy evening in Valencia, now that’s a pairing I’d recommend to
anyone. Salud! 

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