Mar 21 2019

Spain in Brown: Terroir, Tradition and Flavors Galore

We’ve already learned in earlier articles what Spain tastes like if we look at it through the prism of the colors red, orange, yellow and purple. Now we're going to focus on one of the colors that defines Spain when we look at the country from the air. Will you join us on our journey?

The color brown is the one most closely linked to the roots, soil, and most intrinsic elements of the landscape. This earthy brown is the backdrop for the vines that yield the grapes used to make our prestigious Spanish wines, as well as for Manchego sheep, Retinta cows, and 100% Ibérico pigs, a breed that is only found on Spanish dehesas, and which is the origin of one of the most emblematic products in the Spanish pantry: 100% Ibérico bellota ham. It should be noted that the browns of the soils of the dehesa also remind us of the color of acorns, the favorite food of Ibérico pigs and one that has such an important influence on the flavor of Ibérico ham.

The color dark brown is an identifying trait of one of the most famous fortified wines in Spain. We are, of course, talking about the sweet wines made from the grape variety Pedro Ximénez in JerezMontilla-Moriles and Málaga. But we can also find this color in the impressive aging rooms of many Spanish wineries, in the deep wood hues of its casks. If you ever visit wineries like López de HerediaMugaYsios and Azpilicueta in Rioja, you’ll never forget their barrel rooms — vast oceans dedicated to aging wine.

We continue to look for the color brown in the Spanish pantry, and we find it in legumes like lentils and beans from Tolosa, as well as in a very sweet arena, that of traditional pastries from Spain. It is virtually impossible to resist the delicate mantecados from Estepa (sweets made with flour, sugar, pork lard, cinnamon and olive oil), and the famous turrones from Jijona and Alicante. There are also those sweet flavors so closely associated with Spanish breakfasts: the mug of chocolate served up with churros. Sublime. And if it’s chocolate we’re talking about, we should mention the excellent work of Spanish chocolate masters like Oriol Balaguer, Enric Rovira and Christian Balaguer.

Our journey through the color brown comes to an end with a toast brimming with tradition and future: a glass of brandy from Jerez, a spirit that drinks from the vine and is aged in barrels from the wineries of Jerez de la Frontera, barrels that once contained exceptional Sherries from Jerez. A delight.

Text: Rodrigo García / @ICEX

Translation: Adrienne Smith / @ICEX

Photos: @ICEX