If you’re a bit hesitant about the idea of matching fish and red wine you might automatically think of pairing paella with a white wine. But I think it goes just as well with a rosé or a red.
Recipes vary - and are much argued over - but typically the dish will include chicken or rabbit, prawns, mussels or clams, red peppers, pimenton and saffron-flavoured rice. Some Latin-American versions - and Simon Hopkinson's* (see below) - also include spicy sausage but in general it’s more a savoury than a spicy dish and the seafood note isn’t dominant.
It’s also typically eaten at a relaxed sort of family gathering so I wouldn’t advocate anything too grand. A chilled dry rosé from Navarra or Rioja (one of the more traditional bottlings, not the more fruit driven rosés made in a New World style) generally hits the spot perfectly but there’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t drink an inexpensive red Rioja or other medium-bodied Tempranillo or Grenache or Grenache blend (again lightly chilled till cool rather than at room temperature). But I'd avoid 'fruit-bombs' or overly alcoholic, tannic reds.
Looking outside Spain, reds and rosés from the neighbouring Languedoc-Roussillon would work well as would the new wave of characterful Roussanne, Marsanne and Viognier-based Languedoc whites if white wine is your preference.
What you need to look for in a white is an earthy richness rather than a sharp citrussy or floral character so I personally wouldn’t go for the crisp unoaked style of white Rioja that's popular. Or for a Rueda. (You'll enjoy them more, I think, with simply prepared fried or grilled seafood on its own.)
Incidentally there's a good paella recipe from the new Simon Hopkinson series last night in the Channel 4 scrapbook here.
Image © HLPhoto - Fotolia.com
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