Feb 18 2019

Spain in Purple: Flavors Bursting With Youth

Our colorful journey through the colors of Spanish gastronomy makes a stop in the colors purple, lilac and violet. We are leaving the reds, yellows and oranges behind to let ourselves be seduced by this color, which is generally associated with temperance, reflection and clarity.

Some landscapes can never be forgotten. In fact, we have seen more of these than we might think, because we store these places away in our minds using a mixture of visual, aromatic and emotional memories. This is what happens every time a traveler journeys to the heart of rural Guadalajara province (Castile-La Mancha) in July to enjoy the sight of the lavender fields in bloom near the town of Brihuega. Their violet tones are imprinted forever in our mind’s eyes.

We’re also pleasantly surprised when markets in early winter begin to display a range of typical, cold-weather vegetables from Spain, many of which boast a deep purple hue. Eggplants are the most obvious of these vegetables, but others include purple artichokes, Lombard (red) cabbage, and purple cauliflower. This powerful burst of purple brings to mind ideas of healthiness, freshness and vivacity, relating to these wonderfully nutritious vegetables.

We also love finding this vitality in the first red wines of the season — the ones that we anxiously await year after year with the excitement of a new birth. They are crisp wines, with marked aromas of fresh fruit and, in areas like Rioja or el Bierzo, with that slightly fizzy bite that is so characteristic of carbonic maceration wines. Upon examining our glasses, we immediately see the wines’ violet hues — so indicative of their youth, energy and vivaciousness.

The essence of this lively spirit is often left behind on the bottles’ corks, just where they are in constant contact with the wine, giving wine lovers clues as to the condition, quality and preservation of the wine.

We cannot bring this journey through Spain in purple to an end without making mention of a flavor and aroma that is intimately and traditionally linked to the city of Madrid. We are of course talking about the violet (flower) candies made by La Violeta, a hundred-year-old shop located in the plaza de Canalejas, just 50 meters away from the Puerta del Sol and the Plaza de Santa Ana. The next time you taste one, make sure to store its aroma away in your memory, because you will find it again — almost without realizing it — in a glass of young red wine made from Mencía grapes, which are native to DO Bierzo. Try it, and you’ll see how the aroma of violets has been firmly imprinted on your olfactory memory.

Text: Rodrigo García / @ICEX

Translation: Adrienne Smith / @ICEX

Photos: @ICEX