Often considered the national dish of Spain, paella comes in variations as numerous as the grains of rice in a 10 kilogram bolsa. While the word paella may bring to mind the Americanized version with chicken, chorizo, and seafood, traditional paella Valenciana is made with rabbit, snails, and fava beans. No matter the ingredients, the best renditions are always cooked atop an open flame, leaving a crispy layer of socarrat on the bottom of the pan. And the only thing better than that is pairing your paella with the perfect wine.
Torrontes, Argentina’s signature white grape, has a soft florality that works well with spicy yet slightly sweet dishes. This Chicken and Seafood Paella from chef Seamus Mullen has a bit of sweetness brought on by fennel bulb and red bell pepper. The refreshing lemon and grapefruit flavors of Callia Alta Torrontes seem ready-made to drink alongside a steaming pan of this seafood-topped delicacy.
Chef Jose Andres adds depth and sophistication to rice in his Lobster and Chanterelle Paella. The slightly sweet flavor of lobster and rich earthiness of mushrooms are brought out alongside Simi Sonoma Pinot Noir. Flavors of black cherry and pomegranate with a hearty dose of baking spice notes complement this elegant paella’s rich flavors, and the wine’s bright acidity refreshes the palate with each sip.
Our rendition of Paella with Shellfish and Chorizo (from The Fire Island Cookbook) is prepared risotto-style. The chorizo and spices give it strong flavors that will hold up to red wine. Santa Ema Reserva Merlot from Chile’s Maipo Valley will nicely complement the spice, while soft tannins, bold acidity, and rich berry flavors will not overpower the briny notes of seafood.
Made with leeks, butternut squash, and artichoke hearts, this Vegetable Paella has a touch of sweetness and slight tangy notes. Franciscan Estate Napa Valley Chardonnay has flavors of apple and pear with just a touch of lemon zest, creamy mouthfeel, and a zesty finish. These qualities add up to an ideal pairing for this vegetable and rice delight.
Sauvignon Blanc is a natural when there is seafood on the menu. Paella de Marisco is laden with cuttlefish, squid, shrimp, and clams and all that briny goodness calls for Heritance Sauvignon Blanc from Napa Valley. This wine has mouthwatering flavors of white peach and citrus and a strong vein of minerality that go hand-in-hand with creamy rice and the simply prepared bounty of the sea.