Wine Pairing – With a Difference!



Dolce Divas!
Dolce Divas!

Pairing wine with food is not a new concept. When wine was first ‘discovered’ I’m certain that it would have also been enjoyed with food. Centuries ago, depending on where you were drinking it, the water was often a touch on the dodgy side.

Remember the recent Cork Talk re Columbus’ voyage where the wines of Toro were a far safer bet than the water during that historical maiden trip to the Americas! Alcohol burns off the bacteria blighters so it’s certain that wine would have been drunk with food, if only, then, to wash down the food!

We’ve come a long way since then. Matching gourmet food with fine wine has been elevated to the level of an art form and there are those, including myself, who present wine/food pairings professionally. Not a bad job, huh?

Well, there’s now a new wine pairing concept in Spain and I’m proud to say that it’s my far better half, the lovely Claire, who coined the idea and recently put it into practise with great success.

With the essential support of Daniel Castaño of Bodegas Castaño, DO Yecla, whose wines graced the event; as well as the assistance of the owners of Moraira’s Swiss Hotel, whose Head Chef designed a super four-course dinner, we put together a beautiful evening, in every sense of the word.

Dolce Divas (, for whom Claire is the Soprano soloist and flautist (and Kirsty Glen, the pianist and vocalist) performed throughout the evening a magical mixture of Classical Music as well as songs from the shows and some contemporary music too. However, extra to this, the five wines, each served and paired with a separate dish, were also paired with, and in a way, introduced by, specially selected music.

Claire explains: “ Some of the characteristics that can be found in wines can also be found in music. A young vibrant, purple tinged wine can be matched for charm and dynamics by a piece of vivacious music. Similarly, a full-bodied and rich aria would pair perfectly with a deeply flavoured, opulent red. And, of course, it doesn’t just apply to red wines.

Well, the proof of the pudding is in the eating and in this case, the drinking and listening there of!

The first wine was Castaño Macabeo/Chardonnay dry white. This was paired with the Chef’s aperitivos. Daniel, who was in attendance with his charming wife and children, told us a little about the winery and this specific wine. Claire also described the wine and picked out certain of its attributes which she’d also found in a certain piece of music – yes, you might have guessed it, the Flower Duet by Delibes!

I always have some of this wine in my fridge – it’s excellent value! A portion of the Chardonnay has been fermented and aged for a short while in oak, adding depth pf flavour and a touch of creaminess. The rest of the Chardonnay adds a white flower aroma to the final product whilst the green apple flavours and feel give us the fresh acidity! Super!

Castaño Rosado is made with Monastrell, the signature grape variety of the bodega. It’s so pretty in the glass, but it’s not what might be termed insubstantial. It has some attitude too, enough for if to accompany the langostinos in their challenging sauce adorned with fresh salad leaves.


For this intro Dolce Divas chose Les Filles de Cadix, also by Delibes. Claire explained: “This delightfully pretty rosado wine is delicately perfumed and, initially coy, though developing in the glass to become quite sexy and even cheeky! We thought Les Filles de Cadix, with its lively, cheeky mood and colliatura style would match such a wine really well.”

Our first red wine was a new one to me – which is a surprise in itself! Over the years I’ve tasted all of the Bodegas Castaño wines, several vintages of each too, but Santa has only just been added to the impressive portfolio and towards the top end too, probably in second place in the Castaño wine hierarchy!

It’s made with Monastrell, no surprise there, though plenty of delight, as all the red wines at Bodegas Castaño enjoy the company of this, as Daniel says, one of the three main varieties in Spain. It’s blended, perfectly harmoniously with the also indigenous Garnacha Tintorera, sometimes known as Alicante Bouschet (and more locally as Giró).


Although only recently bottled, you can taste the potential, as well as enjoying it right now. The specially selected grapes come from vines that are 45+ years old and after fermentation there are 10 months of ageing in a mixture of French and American oak. On the pallet the wine is soft, almost velvety, and yet there is constrained power as well as elegance.

“A new wine, needs a ‘new’ song,” said Claire in her introduction, “although, Santa Lucía, a Neapolitan song composed by Teodoro Cottrau, and made even more famous in the film Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, is far from new – it’s just a new one to add to our portfolio!”

“Like the wine, the piece is elegant, subtle and structured with an element of complexity. The music is wistful with a sense of yearning, and when you’ve tasted this wine you’ll be yearning for more!”

Casa Cisca is Bodegas Castaño’s flagship wine. It’s named after Daniel’s Abuela, Grandmother, who coincidentally shares her name with his wife. If this wine were made in, for example, La Rioja or Ribera del Duero, it would command at least twice the 35€ for which it is sold! It is one of the best examples of Monastrell that can be found – perhaps the best!


Rich, deep, full, and voluptuous it’s also elementally elegant and graceful with complexity and warmth. It’s a sensational wine, in every sense of the word – drink it with dinner, with cheese, and then afterwards by the log fire in winter, and with the dieing embers of the BBQ in Summer.

Paired with Nella Fantasia, originally an instrumental piece by Ennio Morricone called Gabriel’s Oboe, it was made famous by being the music central to the film The Mission. It’s also graceful and rich.

Our final wine was, until it became famous, something of an oddity! I’m a great believer in dessert wines and often lament the fact that too few restaurants have them on their lists. Mostly, such wines are white – of course. However, Bodegas Castaño’s Dulce is made with, you guessed it, Monastrell.

Late harvested, the grapes are shrivelled, raison-like, with little juice as most of the water content has evaporated. But the ‘must’ (juice) that’s left is so rich and sweet it makes wonderful red dessert wine, that also has the crucial element of acidity – essential in all dessert wines. Try it also with blue, and other strong, cheeses!

“Rich, sweet, rounded, long, warm and contemplative this wine needs to be shared with someone you love,” waxed, Claire, lyrically, “so we’ve chosen the Il Divo love song, ‘Si tu me amas’!”

My guess is that you’ll hear more of this wine/music pairing concept – it was a truly exceptional evening!

Contact Colin: & via his unique wine website (where you can subscribe, gratis, of course, to his regular news letter); plus like 800 others you can also follow Colin on Twitter @colinonwine.

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