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Aug 2, 2008 09:23 AM

Spanish Whites with a Seafood Paella?

Hi I'm new to chowhound and have enjoyed reading the wine posts as I've just begun to learn about wines. Right off a friend who knows of my interest has asked me to bring the wine for a summer outdoor party next week. The hostess is making a seafood paella for approx 14 people. She said the recipe suggested a Spanish white. Of course as a novice here I don't know anything about Spanish wines. but figured it's a great way to learn! Any thoughts on a $10-$15 price range?

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  1. Basa Rueda. Can probably get it under $10.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Brad Ballinger

      Methinks an Albarino would be a good choice. Burgans Rias Baixas Albarino is always a good bet.

      You could also go with a few sparklers. Something like Cordoniu Cuvee Raventos Brut or Marques de Gelida Brut Exclusive.

      Lots of good choices out there. But I would definitely seek out an albarino, especially if you have never tried one.

      1. re: anewton

        Thanks. I'll see if I can track some of these down this weekend so I can taste before the event next weekend. Appreciate it!

        1. re: mpcarney

          I agree with the recommendations for Albarino. The 2006 Vionta Albarino is widely available (you can even buy it online at and would be a fabulous match with paella. It's right in your price range ($14.99 per bottle). I picked up two bottles for a cookout last weekend and loved it.

    2. Like anewton, my first thought was an albarino. Martin Codax is another widely available, reliable producer. My only misgiving is that depending on your location, it might be above your price range.

      Rueda would be fine, and within your price range.

      Another good choice would be Miguel Torres's Vina Sol, made from parellada. It's a crisp thirst-quencher, and certainly within budget. I quite like it. Let us know what you chose and how it went.

      Given that you're in the process of learning, and have a large group, why don't you pick a selection, and do a comparison of the wines?

      1. I love Albariño (or its Portuguese namesake, Alvarinho), but with paella it isn't my first choice. OK, well, that clearly depends upon the paella. Yes -- with a paella that heavily leans towards the seafood and shellfish, then the more I'd lean towards an Albariño.

        The more chicken and chorizo, etc., in the paella -- in other words, the fuller-flavored, richer it is -- the more I'd lean towards a Rueda (like Brad) or a Viura . . .

        23 Replies
        1. re: zin1953

          I thought and almost replied about my similar preference for a less acidic Rueda to pair with, say, a Valenciana with the chorizo and chicken, but realized that the Paella being paired with is a Seafood one. For a seafood paella, I think Albarino would be a good choice.

          1. re: zin1953


            I was going to also recommend a Viura, but couldn't come up with one in the price range (my "go to" being Palacio's Placet). And I'd almost go French Mediterranean white (e.g., a Clairette) before I'd go with Albarino. Love Albarino, but I don't think of it when I think of paella.

            1. re: Brad Ballinger

              I honestly don't either -- but most of the paellas that we cook are a blend of seafood, chicken, and chorizo -- so they need a fuller-bodied wine (I think). That said, I do love Albariño, and the OP was asking about a Spanish white. If we throw open the doors to all the EU . . . .


              1. re: zin1953

                I've read this thread three times now...and I just can't get to the place where Albarino is a good match with a seafood-based paella. That dish, even when it's made with seafood, is gutsy and full-flavored.

                One of Albarino's great qualities is that it is a near-direct expression of vine to bottle -- just a clean, refreshing white wine with no intervention. It's a lovely wine but doesn't have the guts or flesh for a seafood paella.

                I'd go with a Spanish rose first, then whites from Italy, then a Rueda, before I'd do Albarino.

                1. re: maria lorraine

                  Yes! Spanish rosado is MADE for paella. I had a 97 Lopez de Heredia Rioja Rosado Viña Tondonia a couple of weeks ago that would have paired perfectly with a seafood paella. Not sure where the OP is, but I got mine at Astor Pl in NYC.

                  1. re: oolah

                    With my last paella, I have a bottle of 1996 Lopez de Heredia Viña Gravonia from the Rioja -- all Viura. The match was stunning . . .

                    1. re: zin1953

                      I've never had a 100% viura, only as a part of a blend. Did you find it had a little heft and substance? And some minerality? Sounds good for seafood paella.

                      1. re: maria lorraine

                        No, the 1996 is the current vintage. (OK, I take that back -- the 1998 was released recently.)

                        There is a lot of substance and heft . . .

                        For more info, check out (their US distributor), and scroll down, OR go to

                        1. re: maria lorraine

                          Maria, Upthread I mentioned a 100% Viura from Remondo Palacios labeled "Placet." I usually find it in the $15-$20 price range, but maybe it's creeped up of late. Plenty of mineral and heft. There will be some oak, but it's not a distraction.

                          1. re: Brad Ballinger

                            That sounds good. A white needs some heft to go with the paella flavors in toto, which includes that caramelized, scorched rice bottom, the Spanish name of which escapes me at the moment.
                            A little oak would work fine with that.

                            1. re: maria lorraine

                              Socarrat is the word I think you are looking for.

                              1. re: maria lorraine

                                Hours later now...I remembered the name of the heavily caramelized and concentrated crusty rice bottom of paella -- it's the soccarat.

                                No one wine fits all paellas, because they vary so widely in overall flavor intensity. (Even the seafood paella from Andalucia is different from the one from Valencia.) Not every, probably not even most, American cooks make the soccarat or even know that this is a desirable or authentic element of paella. A "white paella" may have with fish and no shellfish, no bell pepper or pimenton, only a small amount of saffron, and no soccarat. A Valencian cook might pile on the shellfish, add lots of bell pepper, tomato and saffron; and develop a soccarat that is caramelized and crusty and like a piece of artisan bread. The first paella might be fine with an Albarino but would be lost with the second. The second paella definitely needs something with more heft, something like the Viura, or what you often see it served with -- rosado.

                          2. re: zin1953

                            I f you had to pair the paella with a red wine (for people who do not drink white wine), What would you choose? I was thinking a Condado de Haza, but I'm not sure. or pesquera crianza. on the cheaper side i was thinking about buying a bottle of Tres picos but i dont think it would match at all. A little help, please.

                          3. re: oolah

                            Damn straight on the Lopez de Heredia!

                            I've had paella (or similarly flavored seafoody dish) twice this summer. The first time, I paired it with the 1998 Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia Gran Reserva rosado - amazing pairing, incredibly complex and wonderful wine. The second time, I paired with a 1990 Lopez Tondonia Reserva blanco. OH. MY. GOD. This was the Wine-of-the-Year for me so far.

                            And what bargains. I paid $28 for the rosado, and $42 for the blanco. Yup, $42 bucks for a 20 year old wine that puts most white Burgundys to shame.

                            1. re: Ricardo Malocchio

                              Have you tried the López de Heredia Viña Gravonia Blanco? Still looking for a $18-$30 wine to match my paellas

                              1. re: LRS

                                Yes, it was the 2000 vintage Gravonia I had, and it was available for about the same price as the Tondonia rosado ($27, I believe). Specifically, it's this one:

                                FWIW, I'm purchasing these from The Wine Bottega in Boston's North End. You might be able to source better prices if you don't live in a state that restricts out-of-state alcohol purchases.

                                I liked the Gravonia alot, but I prefer the Tondonia rosado for about the same price:

                                And the 1990 Tondonia blanco bests them all!

                                1. re: Ricardo Malocchio

                                  Thanks a lot. I still have the red dilemma---

                          4. re: maria lorraine

                            Seafood paella and Albarino is a classic pairing. That aside, it sounds like you have other preferences, which is fine. Personally, I find it to be a fantastic match with seafood paella.

                            1. re: sbonagof

                              Actually, if you want to talk "classic" pairing, the classic pairing for Albarino are Galician fish pies. The wine is from Galicia, and is a frequent companion to the fish pies made in that region. Paella is from Valencia, a different coast altogether.

                              That said, I still ascribe to drink wine you like with food you like regardless of how "classic" the pairing may or may not be. For me, I would drink plenty of other wines with paella before I'd grab an Albarino.

                              1. re: Brad Ballinger

                                Speaking of Albarino, I recently had one from Alban Winery (Central Coast CA) and it was MASSIVE, with 15.8% Alcohol (possibly higher, but this was the ABV on the label), plenty of vanilla oak, and significant heft. Now, this is a far cry from any Spanish Albarino one would find, but it nevertheless interests me how a grape variety that is traditionally considered to be fairly lean could be transformed into a burgeoning monster of a wine given the right climactic and soil conditions and winemaking techniques. (Surprisingly, this California Albarino had pretty vibrant acidity, which rescued it from being a flaccid, doughy monster of a wine).

                                1. re: Brad Ballinger

                                  Here's the thing when speaking of things "classic", especially recently when everything old is "nouveau/nouvelle" again. Last summer a friend of mine did a "seafood paella"... no chorizo, no chicken, just seafood. Although she used that short grain rice (can't recall the name at the moment), it was remarkably light, and marine. The albarino was perfect.

                                  So, mpcarney, what precisely was the paella, and what wine(s) did you choose?

                                  1. re: hungry_pangolin

                                    I completely agree - Albarino would be a great combination with a seafood paella without chicken and chorizo, too.

                                    What I find amusing is how hard a few people are trying to argue against an obvious pairing of Albarino, a notably food-friendly wine, with a dish, seafood paella, that is paired with it all the time. There are several other solid recommendations in this thread, too. I take nothing away from them. But most of all, I do appreciate the (unnecessary) geography lesson that I was given in this thread. The next time a waiter in Spain tries to recommend a bottle of Albarino with paella, I'll be sure to set him straight. ;-)

                                    1. re: sbonagof

                                      Easy now, was your comment that albarino was a "classic pairing" that invited further comment. No one disputed the food-friendly nature of Albarino, or its loveliness as a wine. What may be in question is the frequency with which Albarino is paired with seafood paella in Spain itself, where Rosado, especially from the bobal grape, and other whites (like moscatel romano and meseguera) from Valencia and Andalucia are far more common and less expensive than Albarino, as well as more regional and traditional.

                      2. Had a wine called Portal over the weekend. Might be a good option with seafood based Paella; &0% Garnacha Blanca, 20% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Viognier, and 5% Macabeo. Very refreshing and crisp at $14 bottle.

                        1. No doubt an Albarino will pair nicely but I haven't been able to find a good one in your price range. Two other choices second best could be Muga Rose 2007 from Rioja Spain. Nicely crisp and dry with some flavor and an Italian, Fazi Battaglia Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi 2005 somewhat less flavour and different but dry sometimes with a spritz. 'She' may find the first has a romantic touch... and even the scroll and bottle shape of the second. Go for it!

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: Winowill

                            Many respondents here are correct in preferring a white wine for seafood paella. However, much as I like Albariño, I would not select it. Too fruity. The other Spanish whites lack the strength to stand up to a flavor-filled paella. So a rosé/rosado from Rioja would be good.

                            However, an earthy, rich Marsanne/Roussanne based wine from southern France is ideal. Frankly I don’t have gobs of experience with these wines, but they are only whites of consequence grown here under the warm Mediterranean sun. They pair well with nuts, sea scallops, lobster/crab, smoked fish, garlicky dishes – big flavors as you will find in paella.

                            1. re: Winowill

                              I like the Muga rosado, too, and it's only about $10-$12!

                              1. re: Ricardo Malocchio

                                my first thought was albarino might be a little weird but muga's rosado might be perfect - so another vote for that one.

                                1. re: andytee

                                  Yes, I like their rosado as well - drink it often in the summer.