Spanish Wine 101

Spanish wine is labeled according to the amount of aging the wine has received. A bottle labeled vino joven (“young wine”) or sin crianza (“without aging”) will have had little–to–no wood aging. These wines are often intended for consumption within a year of release. The three most common aging designations on Spanish wine labels are Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva.

* Crianza red wines are aged for two years, with at least six months of aging in oak casks.

* Crianza whites and rosé must be aged for at least one year with at least six months spent in oak.

* Reserva red wines are aged for at least three years with at least one year of aging in oak casks.

* Reserva whites and rosé must be aged for at least 2 years with at least six months in oak.

* Gran Reserva designation is typically reserved for the highest-quality vintages. Reds require at least five years of aging, 18 months of which must be in oak. Whites and rosé must be aged for at least four years with at least six months in oak casks.

The vintage year or cosecha on any bottle of Spanish wine indicates that at least of 85% of the grapes used in the wine come from that specific year’s harvest.

Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Episode 104: Landmarks, Legends, and the Lap of Luxury

Gwyneth and Mario meet up with architectural legend Frank Gehry for a tour of the Bilbao Guggenheim. Meanwhile, Mark and Claudia head into the woods where they discover the ultimate grilling restaurant. The foursome reunite at the Gehry-designed Marqués de Riscal Hotel and Vineyard in Rioja wine country. Gwyneth and Claudia opt for oppulent spa treatments while Mario and Mark sneak back into Bilbao to spend a boys’ night out eating and drinking.

Posted Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Episode 103: Coasting Along in Galicia

Posted Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Episode 102: Pilgrimage to Galicia!

Mark’s moods swings and insatiable appetite have the road trippers stopping often as they head north to Galicia. While in Ribera del Duero wine country, Mario grills milk-fed lamb in a vineyard. While staying at a traditional county inn, Mario’s competitive edge emerges and he and Gwyneth race Mark and Claudia on the Camino de Santiago, a historic pilgrimage route. Back at the inn, Mario and Gwyneth cook dinner while waiting for Mark and Claudia to get back.

Posted Tuesday, April 7, 2015


These came in especially handy for Gwyneth when the table was covered with plates of all kinds of pork. It’s important to keep everyone happy!

Serves 4
*1 pound sardines, cleaned and scaled
*Extra–virgin olive oil
*Coarse sea salt
*1 lemon, preferably from Valencia, cut into 4 or 8 wedges

Rub the sardines with just enough oil to make them slick, and sprinkle with salt. Put over a hot grill fire and cook until well marked with grill marks, 3 to 4 minutes; when the sardines are ready to be turned, they will release easily from the grill. Using a spatula, carefully turn and cook for 3 more minutes, or until just opaque throughout. Transfer to a platter, sprinkle with salt, and drizzle with a little more olive oil. Serve with the lemon wedges.

Posted Tuesday, March 31, 2015


When the cast of Spain on the road Again ate at Casa Pintos after meeting the mariscadoras in Cambados, Gwyneth was inspired by the chef‘s use of laurel, bay leaves, in the steamed clams. When they got to the Vintona Winery, she volunteered to make everyone her special clams, with enough garlic to clear your sinuses. The healthy slug of Albariño is key.

Serves 4

* 2 pounds berberechos or other clams, scrubbed
* 1 head garlic, cut in half across the bulb
* 2 or 3 fresh bay leaves
* 1/2 bottle Albariño (or other good Spanish dry white wine)
* 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Put everything in a deep skillet, cover tightly, and steam over medium-high heat until the clams open (yes, it’s really that easy).

Posted Tuesday, March 24, 2015


When I took Mark to a market in Madrid, we saw a fish called a ‘besugo’ and I started laughing. Mark was confused, so I explained that in Spain there’s a common expression called a “diálogo de besugos,” which is basically a nonsensical discussion where both parties can’t seem to understand each other. Apparently it has to do with the fish’s big–eyed appearance which seems to almost say: “what are you talking about??”


Posted Tuesday, March 17, 2015


Navaja is the Spanish word for both a fighting knife and a razor clam. I’m more interested in the clams, which look like knives— about five inches long and very thin. Cook them as you would any other clam. They’re especially great prepared on a hot plancha!


Posted Tuesday, March 10, 2015


This week, Mark and Claudia made migas, essentially Thanksgiving stuffing Spanish style, with Javier Muñoz. Note that it’ s very good served with eggs fried in olive oil.

Serves 6 as a side dish or tapa

6 cups coarse dried bread crumbs
½ cup olive oil
6 garlic cloves, not peeled
½ pound Spanish chorizo, casings removed and cut into ½ inch dice
½ pound pancetta in one piece, cut into ½ inch dice
A large bunch of grapes
6 Roasted Red Peppers, peeled, seeded, and cut into wide strips

Put the bread crumbs in a bowl, sprinkle with just enough water to moisten, and cover with damp paper towels. Set aside for 2 hours, or until the bread is evenly moistened. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium–high heat. Add the garlic and stir until lightly browned and fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the chorizo and pancetta and cook, stirring, until the meat is lightly browned and starting to render its fat, about 8 minutes. Add the bread crumbs, mix thoroughly, and cook, stirring, until the crumbs are lightly browned. Serve with the grapes and roasted peppers (peel the garlic cloves if you like, or let your guests do it).

Posted Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Pimientos de Padron

Pimientos de Padron are amazingly tasty, tiny peppers from a medieval town in Galicia, northwest Spain. These peppers are a great addition to any Spanish meal and are at the peak of their season right now! For the freshest Pimientos de Padron, be sure to order now.

Buy Here!

Posted Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Blog: Claudia on Azafrán

Azafrán, or saffron, is one of the world’s most valuable spices. It’s distinctive floral smell and burnt orange color can’t be confused for anything else. It’s vital in many Spanish recipes, including paella. Fun fact: saffron is actually the stigma of bright lavender crocus flowers. Available at


Posted Tuesday, February 17, 2015


Santiago Calatrava, the world–renowned architect and sculptor, was born in Valencia. No surprise that some of his most famous buildings can be found in his hometown. The southern part of the city is dominated by his Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias – The City of Arts and Sciences – which consists of five amazing buildings.


Posted Tuesday, February 10, 2015


Almendra is the Spanish word for “almond.” Most of Spain’s almonds go into turrón, a sweet, nougaty candy that’s consumed in huge quantities around Christmas. But almonds seem to always be around in Spain. They pop up, sprinkled with salt, at bars with your cocktails; they arrive in small bags on every Spanish flight; they are ground into all sorts of cakes and pastries; and they accompany most cheeses and fruits. They were also our “secret ingredient” for our Iron Chef–style cooking competition.


Posted Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Recipe of the Week: Mallorcan Coast Grill

Mario and Gwyneth grilled seafood with a local chef at a stunning coastal spot. Simple and unbeatable, this recipe is a lesson in great ingredients. Perfect for summer!

Serves 4
*1 large Mallorcan lobster (or Caribbean or Maine lobster)
*A few whole mackerel, cleaned and scaled
*1 rouget, cleaned and scaled
*12 large head–on shrimp in the shell
*Extra–virgin olive oil
*Mallorcan or Maldon sea salt

To kill the lobster, hold it firmly on a cutting board with its head toward you, plunge a sharp heavy knife into the center of the head, and quickly bring the knife down to the board, splitting the front of the lobster in half; turn it around and cut it completely in half. Rub the lobster, fish, and shrimp with olive oil and season with salt (including the cavities of the fish). Put over a hot grill fire (start the lobster shell side down) and cook the shrimp for about 2 minutes, the lobster and rouget for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the flesh is starting to become opaque; don’t give in to the temptation to flip too soon. Use a spatula to gently turn the shrimp, and then the lobster and fish, and cook for a few more minutes more, until just cooked through. Transfer to a platter, sprinkle with salt and olive oil, and dig in.

Posted Tuesday, January 27, 2015


In this week’s episode, be on the lookout for the orujo that goes into the Galician ‘punch’ called queimada. Orujo, sometimes called aguardiente, is a spirit native to Galicia with a very high alcohol level. It’s a bit like Italian grappa or Peruvian pisco—it’s made from the leftovers of the wine-making process, the grape skins and seeds, as well as bits of branches. Strong stuff.

Posted Tuesday, January 20, 2015