Jan 31 2023

Meet Pimentón De la Vera - The Red Smoky Spanish Sensation!

Unlike any old paprika, it’s DOP Pimentón de La Vera’s smokiness that brings warmth and flavor to some of Spain’s most iconic dishes

Not to be confused with any old paprika you take off the shelf, Pimentón De la Vera DOP is a regionally protected product with history and a distinct smokiness that make it a Spanish staple spice. Let’s find out more.

The pepper plant was first introduced to Spain through Columbus’ expeditions to the Americas. By the end of the 15th century, friars in the province of Cáceres had already started to cultivate this slender capsicum - it was believed that pimentón could be produced to replace ground pepper that came from the Orient at that time.

Thanks to the sheltering mountains, mild winters and dry summers, the plant thrived in La Vera and surrounding areas - except for the inclement weather - when a solution to that problem came about that would shape the aroma profile of the spice forever. Since the rain in the fall conflicted with harvest time, local farmers in the 17th century designed drying houses for the pimentón, where they could be slow-dried over smoldering oak branches. The resulting smoky profile of the DOP Pimentón De la Vera makes it unique worldwide, and a hallmark of Spain’s tastiest recipes!

Today, there are three main types of Pimentón de La Vera - dulce i.e. smoked variety that is used in paellas, savory stews and romesco sauce, agridulce which is smoked and slightly spicy, and picante, which adds fiery heat to any dish. All three are commonly used to make chorizo and other famous cured meats of Spain, as well as a multitude of cheeses hailing from the neighboring Extremadura. Its use of Pimentón De la Vera in the rind adds an unmistakable flavor that defines this part of Spain. For wine pairing choices with recipes starring Pimentón De la Vera (including BBQ meats), consider a barrel-aged red from  Rueda DO or La Rioja DOCa to complement the smoky flavor, for example, a Marqués de Cáceres Gran Reserva. Enjoy!

Typical Spanish sausages lying on a village stall at the food market, traditional meat products