Say Olé to Spain!

Wine Institute of New England


Say Olé to Spain!

Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

7:00 ~ 9:00 pm

in the Wine Cellar at

Wine Institute of New England

Explore the splendor of sparkling, white and red Spanish wines region by region. We will cover several areas, including Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Rias Baixas, and the Penedes.


Twelve Nightcaps Before Christmas – The Re(night)cap with Afterword

The nightcaps we posted are good all year long

With any of these you will never go wrong

In case you missed one we’ve reposted them here

With one afterword, coming sometime next year…

imageEpilogue: Oktopusake Premium Junmai Sake, Connecticut

On the rare occasions I’m not drinking wine with sushi, I opt for sake instead. Sake is a perfect pairing with sushi and, since it is a rice wine, I can still call it research. I was very excited to learn that there is a local company working on perfecting their own sake. Oktopusake will soon be offering three varieties of their premium junmai sake to Connecticut consumers: Sun – a traditional dry sake; Moon – an unfiltered version (think milky white and slightly sweet); and Stars – a specialty reserve sake that will be as black as squid ink because it will be tinted with, well…squid ink! We will keep you posted on Oktopusake’s progress and are very much looking forward to seeing this new local product in Connecticut stores and restaurants in 2014.



Re(night)cap: One of the questions I encounter the most as a wine educator is “What’s your favorite wine?” I confess, it’s a question I’ve come to dread because I always feel like I’m disappointing the inquisitor. My answer usually goes something like this: “I don’t really have a favorite. It depends on the day, the time of year, the company in which I find myself, and any gustatory delights with which I may be pairing the wine.”  If really pushed, I’ll tell them that I am a Champagne girl. This seems to provide them with a little more satisfaction. But the truth is my favorite wine changes on a monthly, weekly and even daily basis. And I am always waiting to find my next favorite wine. The beauty of the wine world is that there is always more to explore. So, here I will present a list of my 12 favorite wines right now for drinking and gifting during the holidays, one day at a time for the next 12 days.

A Votre Santé!

For the full list of 12 nightcaps, click here: Nightcap Recap






Twelve Nightcaps Before Christmas – The 4th Nightcap

51ae46ef765d4Nightcap #4: Grupo Bodegas Olarra Cerro Anon Rioja Crianza Reserva 2006, Rioja, Spain $18

I have a strong fondness for Spanish wines and this is never more evident than when I get my lips on a big, bold Rioja. Rioja is almost single-handedly responsible for putting Spain on the global wine map. As with most European wines, the name on the label is the region, not the grape. In Spain, Rioja means tempranillo. This grape is less fruit-driven and more about earthy, smokey, tobacco and leather-like aromas and flavors, with good tannins and a delightful food-friendliness. 

Grupo Bodegas Olarra has only been around since 1973, but they have managed to make a big splash in a fairly short time. They combine modern winemaking with traditional vinification and aging techniques. Although 100% tempranillo wines are becoming more common, Cerro Anon adds a touch of garnacha, mazuelo and graciano to the mix. This wine, which is created from some of the bodegas' older vines, has the earthy, leather components, buoyed by notes of blackberry and orange zest. Try pairing it with your holiday roast. You will not be disappointed.