Rueda wine comes from Spain’s Rueda DO, located between the prestigious regions of Toro and Ribera del Duero. Unlike its neighbours, however, Rueda is best known for producing white wine. White Rueda comes from Verdejo, Sauvignon Blanc, Viura, or a combination of all three. Stylistically, they can range from light and fresh to full-bodied and complex. As a result, Rueda wines are great for all sorts of food.
Pairing food with Rueda wine
When pairing white wine with food, it can be tempting to simply stick with the old adage of white wine and fish going well together. There’s nothing wrong with this, but it’s a little simplistic and you run the risk of missing out. To get the most out of food and wine pairing, you should consider the individual characteristics of the white wine in question. Let’s look at the three main types of Rueda wine, and what food goes with each.
Styles of Rueda wine
Still white Rueda wine falls into one of three categories:
The white wine labelled simply Rueda must contain at least 50% Verdejo in the blend. It can also have Sauvignon Blanc or Viura, which can be used to neutralise the intense aromatics of the Verdejo. This style of Rueda wine is usually quite well balanced, fresh and easy to drink. Expect a nose of floral character and some pleasant acidity.
- Food pairing: Pair a young Rueda blend with a turkey stir fry served with rice. Analivia Rueda is a blend of Verdejo and Viura, with a nice level of acidity and floral and tropical flavours. The acid in the food will play down the wine’s acid and emphasise the fruit.
Sauvignon Blanc is an international superstar grape variety, and is increasingly popular in the Rueda region. For a wine to be labelled as a Rueda Sauvignon, it must contain a minimum of 85% Sauvignon Blanc. As Rueda winemakers want to develop distinct styles, it is quite common to find wines that are closer to 100% pure Sauvignon Blanc. These wines are highly acidic, fresh and fruity and have a long, lingering finish.
- Food pairing: Rueda Sauvignon is a great pairing match for fatty foods, such as foie gras or chicken liver paté. The tingling acidity can cut through the fattiness of the dish and make for a very pleasant taste experience! Marqués de Riscal Sauvignon is an example of one of those 100% Sauvignon Rueda wines we mentioned, and is perfect here!
Finally, we’ve got Rueda Verdejo. These wines need a minimum of 85% Verdejo in the blend, though it’s often closer to 100%! Verdejo is a highly aromatic grape, with a complex nose of exotic fruits. This style has great structure, tingling acidity and a lovely fruity palate.
- Food pairing: Tomato-based sauces and dishes are a great counterpoint for the acidity in a young wine like Ermita Veracruz Verdejo, a pure Verdejo varietal. Think along the lines of a rich Italian meatball sauce or even a good old-fashioned homemade pizza!
Bonus point: Oak-flavoured Rueda and food pairing
Most white Rueda wines are made to be enjoyed young. They’re fresh, zippy and full of life. They really should be enjoyed very soon after bottling. Some winemakers like to barrel-ferment and/or barrel-age their Rueda wines, though. This can present a little bit of a problem for food and wine lovers, because these wines taste different: They’re bigger, more full-bodied, may have different flavours and may even need decanting. Pairing food with oak-aged wine is not rocket science, though, so worry no more!
- Food pairing: Pair your oaked Rueda wine with a hearty, creamy dish. Chicken in white wine tarragon is a great idea to go with a high-quality oak-aged Rueda like Ossian 2014. The flavour intensity between food and wine is well matched, and the wine is organic too!
Tell us about your favourite Rueda food and wine pairings in the comments below!