Thanks for having me as the official wine pairing pro for DinnerwithDaniel blog, looking forward to many fun matches! As a wine and food professional, I always like to break down pairings into simple component parts: originating region of cuisine, cooking technique, balance of flavors and spicing, the body of the dish, and the seasonality of the dish are all major points to consider.
So here’s my breakdown of pairing for Tortilla de Patata:
Region: Spain – this dish is prepared in various ways in Spain and is a common and traditional tapas (small plate).
Cooking Technique: this dish is cooked in oil and then sautéed. Depending on the cooking heat, there can be some caramelization of the onions and browning of the potatoes and eggs. Daniel tried to make this a very simple preparation of the dish (I’ve seen a recipe where the onions are slowly caramelized for 40 minutes, but you need so much patience!) and the sweetness from caramelization is minimal – so it’s not really a factor.
Balance of Flavors and Spicing: think fat, and lots of good fat of the olive oil kind! Fat coats your palate and adds richness and mouth feel to a dish. This is especially significant when you add rich eggs to the dish–now you can pair a red wine with low to medium tannins and the fat will offset them. The blend of herbs make the dish more flavorful, and Rosemary tends to be a red wine herb, but this really depends on personal preference. Traditionally this dish has smoky Spanish Paprika added which adds a “smoky” component, but Daniel didn’t do so in this recipe so it’s not a factor.
The Body: this dish has quite a bit of richness and body from the oil, the cooking technique and the eggs. I consider this dish medium-bodied in flavor because the olive oil and eggs add weight, but there is no red meat, mushrooms or rich vegetables like eggplant to move it up a notch on the richness level – it’s not meant to be a heavy dish (try this dish for breakfast the next day after sitting in the fridge overnight, it sure beats an Egg McMuffin!).
Other factors: This is an all-season dish and none of the flavor components are overwhelming such as sweetness, acidity or spicing.
Wine Pairing conclusion: after breaking down the dish (and becoming famished in the process!), I would pair this dish with a medium bodied white or red wine, and I would try to stick with the region of Spain. Tempranillo is a red varietal that is relatively inexpensive and with low to medium tannins would be excellent, this is in fact what Spaniards would most likely drink with the dish, there are many good ones produced in Rioja, Ribera del Duero and Toro. On the white wine front, an Albariño from Rias Baixas in the North west of Spain would be excellent, but since I consider this dish an excellent brunch food, a wonderful dry or off-dry Cava (sparkling wine) from Penedès in eastern Spain would work great as well. Some fun alternatives would be Cabernet Franc from Virginia, Tempranillo from California, Malbec from Argentina, Sangiovese from Italy and Pinot Noir from Oregon or Burgundy. The only wines I would shy away from are “oaky” Chardonnays and overly rich red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon or Australian Shiraz. This dish is simple country fare and the wine paired should be rustic and inexpensive – there’s no reason to spend more than $20 a bottle or so.
Consider yourself Paired!
Charlie Adler, Author
“I Drink on the Job” (Release date: January, 2010)
www.idrinkonthejob.com Twitter: @idrinkonthejob
Charlie Adler, President
1028 29th St., NW
Washington, D.C. 20007
Author of “I Drink On the Job”
Early 2010 Release