Make Your Holiday Host Love You

emery and rikin

Emery Santora, Manager at Barcelona West Hartford, gives her insights into choosing the perfect bottle of wine for holiday gift giving.

Whether you’re the family favorite, the life of the party, or the one in the corner responding to work emails (that’s me), making a good impression on the host of any is always a must. With the holidays upon us and countless parties to attend, there’s one gift that never fails. . .a beautiful bottle of wine! After a recent trip to Spain, my family has had the pleasure of enjoying the bounty I brought back with me. If you don’t have the luxury of traveling abroad for your holiday wine selection, then your job just isn’t as good as mine. But fear not, there are other options.  Luckily, many neighborhood wine and liquor stores now carry a plethora of Spanish wines to choose from.

Although I’d like to assume that the majority of partygoers know their host well enough to remember exactly which bottle they had for the toast at their wedding, or the French pinot noir their mother bought them for graduation, I highly doubt that’s the case. You can’t please everyone, which is why you focus on (the most important) one—The Host. I always prefer to bring both a red and white wine, and if I really like the host, a cava or a rosé as well! (And even if they don’t drink it, you will, right?) You want to bring wines that are overall crow- pleasers. Save the funky, unfiltered, phenomenally ridiculous wines for your fellow wine connoisseurs.

For white wine, I’ll be grabbing (and probably not letting go of) almost anything Verdejo. One of my favorite white grapes because it hits everything I look for in a white:  body, minerality, light citrus and floral notes, and it lingers just long enough to have you pining for another sip. Spoiler alert for my family and friends: I’ll be bringing the 2013 Verdejo, Vinedos de Nieva, Pie Franco. This wine from Rueda is not aged but instead fermented for 20 days in small stainless steel tanks. The crisp, orange zest and ripe pear notes, coupled with the long elegant finish on the palate, will keep me next to my mom’s charcuterie board all night. No need for real dinner. . .I’ll be over here with my wine and cheese, thank you very much.


For those of you who choose to leave the cheese board and head over to carve into that roast, you might want to bring the host a nice red to go with it. Although I’m inclined to point you towards a Tempranillo, my growing love for Garnacha is steering me in a different direction. So this year, one lucky host will be privy to my score from Madrid: the 2010 Las Umbrias. This bold contender is one for the hostess you like…a lot. Its medium body is both chewy and earthy, and boasts currant and nutmeg aromas while gripping your mouth firmly. The choice behind a Garnacha is simple, they are elegant and complex, yet can please everyone from pinot noir lovers to cab aficionados.

One of the biggest power moves to make at a party is to be the one who brings the bubbles. Let’s be honest it means you’re fun, or like me, you live for the thrill of wondering who the cork might accidentally hit. Regardless there’s nothing that says celebration like a good bottle of sparkling wine. Considering the probability that you will be having more than one glass I would recommend going with a brut nature. The less sugar added to anything nowadays the better right? Especially if you will be indulging in some after dinner treats. I’ll be popping a bottle of Recaredo Brut Nature Cava. The producers of this wine are in a league of their own. The use no pesticides and hand harvest all their grapes. They even disgorge every bottle by hand. The patience and love behind these bubbles is evident and I can assure you, your guests will taste it. The crisp stone fruits imparted by the Xarel-lo mixed with the lively bubbles are the perfect pairing for you pastry delights.

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These wines are simply suggestions. These particular wines can be hard to find so branch out, that’s the fun in it! Bring something to the table no one else has or will. Get in close with your local wine shop owner or if you have a favorite restaurant that has a sommelier, get their number! I certainly recommend West Side Wines in West Hartford. Good luck!

From all of us at Barcelona, happy holidays!


emery and gretchen

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Festive Holiday Cocktails

‘Tis the season for entertaining! From a summertime staple with a cold weather twist to a scarlet showstopper and frothy favorite, these holiday drinks will be sure to impress your guests.




Barcelona Gintonic


Orange wedge

Lemon wedge

Rosemary stem

2 oz. Hayman’s London Dry

4 oz. Fever-Tree tonic ( 1/3 of bottle)

Garnish: Rosemary stem

Glassware: Barcelona Wine Glass

Steps of Preparation:

1. Rub the rim of the glass with lemon and orange wedges, squeeze, then drop into glass

2. Fill glass ¾ of the way with ice and add rosemary sprig

3. Add measured amount of gin, then top with the tonic

4. Stir



jekylJekyll & Hyde

Ingredients (must be built in order):

1 oz. Bulleit Rye

¾ oz. Tempus Fugit Crème de Cacao

½ oz. Carpano Antica Vermouth

4 dashes of Angostura bitters

2 dashes of Peychaud’s bitters

Garnish – Orange peel

Glassware – Small martini glass

Steps of Preparation:

1. In a clean and empty pint glass, add all measured ingredients.

2. Add ice to the top, and begin stirring with bar spoon, about 10-15 seconds, to build the drink volume just more than halfway up the glass

3. Strain into small martini glass. Garnish with fresh orange peel.


suzeMind Your Bees & Suze

Ingredients (must be built in order):

¾ oz. Simple syrup

1 oz. Lemon juice

½ oz. Egg whites (pasteurized)

1 oz. Barr Hill Gin

½ oz. Suze

Garnish – Dash of nutmeg

Glassware – Highball glass

Steps of Preparation:

1. In a clean and empty cocktail shaker, add all measured ingredients.

2. Add ice and shake well for 10 seconds **must shake for 10 seconds to create ideal froth**

3. Strain into ice filled high ball glass. Garnish with a dash of nutmeg.

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Say hello to our new marketplace!

Get your Barcelona entertaining essentials for the holidays on our brand new online marketplace.


Here are some of our favorites…


Want to learn to make your favorite Barcelona dishes? Each month Barcelona chefs hold cooking classes in all locations.


Join Wine and Spirits Director Gretchen Thomas for any Saturday wine class.

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Want to bring home a taste of Barcelona? We’ll teach you the art of paella, the secret to a perfect pitcher of sangria and how to recreate our signature Chicken al Pimientos.

From flavorful hot and cold tapas to hearty main and side dishes; all of your favorites are here.

Gather your friends and celebrate wine, food and life, Barcelona-style!


Our paella kit has everything you’ll need to create a delicious paella for two at home — the classic pan, Valencian rice, Spanish olive oil, saffron (the essential ingredient), and our signature recipe. Enjoy!

Happy Holidays!

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Thanksgiving in New Haven, Barcelona-style!



Although there is no Thanksgiving in Spain I tend to use traditional Thanksgiving ingredients in my Spanish cooking.  I focus on the garnishes to give them a Spanish slant.  Toasted nuts, chorizo, simple herb sauces that can be made ahead and quickly served is what we use on a daily basis and can be helpful on a busy day like Thanksgiving!



Queso Freso a la Plancha (demo)

Hot Pepper Relish

Meats & Cheeses


Roasted Pork Loin

Chimichurri (demo)


Roasted Broccoli

Chorizo Vinaigrette (demo)

Sautéed Turnips

Pumpkin Seed Pesto

Chorizo Vinaigrette

Makes about 2 cups

2 tbs olive oil

1# Chorizo (chopped fine or pureed)

2 Shallots (sliced)

1 cup Sherry Vinegar

½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil


Black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add the shallots until softened about 3 minutes.  Add the chorizo and cook until it just starts to brown.  Add the vinegar and extra virgin olive oil and remove from the heat.  Season with salt and black pepper. Serve warm.

Hot Pepper Relish

Makes about 2 cups

3 tbs Olive Oil

2 Red Bell Peppers (small dice)

2 Large White Onions (small dice)

1 Jalapeno (small dice) you may need more or less depending on the level of heat

2 Cloves Garlic (chopped)

¼ cup Tomato Paste

¼ cup Red Wine Vinegar



Black Pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan.  Add the onions and garlic and cook until lightly brown about 5 minutes.  Add both peppers and cook for another 5 minutes.  Add the tomato paste, vinegar and about ½ cup water.  Mix until the paste is dissolved and makes a thin sauce.  Season with salt and black pepper.  Serve warm.


Makes about 2 cups

1 cup Parsley (chopped fine)

1 tsp Dry Oregano

1 Clove Garlic (chopped)

2 tsp Paprika

1 tsp Spanish paprika

1 tsp Chili Flakes

1-1 ¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

3 tbs Balsamic Vinegar

¼ cup Red Wine Vinegar


Mix all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Add the oil and vinegars. Season to taste.



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Thanksgiving Wine Guide

By Eric Harris, Wine Steward Barcelona Wine Bar and Restaurant

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It’s that time of year again. It’s time to stuff ourselves full of homemade cooking, relax with our friends and family, watch football, and of course, drink wine. Now, we just have to figure out what to drink with dinner. Your first thought might be Beaujolais Nouveau, but haven’t you done that already? I’d like to put a Spanish twist on things.

If your family is anything like mine, not everybody is going to wait for dinner to crack open the first bottle of wine. You might want something to go with the hors d’oeuvres. My choice for starting the day off is the 2010 Marques de Gelida Rose Brut Reserva.  This is a biodynamic rose cava made from 100% Pinot Noir, showing beautiful bright cherry, cranberry, and strawberry flavors, with a very clean refreshing finish. This wine will work well with many cheeses, cured meats, olives, salads, and other light fare. It is also quiet delicious as an aperitif on its own.

 marques de gelida

When dinner is served I know I’ll be reaching for a bottle of Mencia. The specific wine I have in mind is the 2010 Dominio del Bibei Lalama. This is yet another biodynamic wine, a trend in my selections that is by no means accidental. It is a beautiful wine with bright red fruits and strong acidity upfront with a lovely complex finish with prominent flavors of dark cherry, dried rose petal, slate, and subtle spice. If you cook anything like I do, almost everything is sure to be full of butter. This wine, with its strong fruit structure and complexity, will make a great pairing for the variety of rich flavors across your dinner table. This wine’s acid will go a long way to refresh your palate during the meal.



Finally comes the important part, pie. Those last few blissful bites will surely send you into a much needed, food-induced nap on the couch. It would be a shame for them to go unaccompanied. With our final course, I would suggest a nice glass of sherry. The Alvear Asuncion Oloroso stands out in my mind. With its soft notes of maple, cinnamon, and toasted nuts it is sure to pair well with a wide array of pies, cookies, and other delicious holiday treats.



Now, you don’t have to stick to my suggestions. The wide array of flavors that can find their way to your dinner table during the holidays leaves you with plenty of options. Other notable mentions are: Traditional Rioja Reserva, Priorat’s Garnacha Blanca, Rioja’s aged Viura, and Moscatel Dulce.


When choosing your wine for the holidays, it can be hard to make sure what you pick up at your local wine shop is the quality you desire. Always remember you can ask your local neighborhood sommelier or the owner and clerks at a wine shop you trust. If you’re in Brookline for the holidays I suggest taking a look in The Wine Press on Beacon St.


Whatever you chose for your holiday festivities, myself and the Barcelona family wish you all the best. May your dinner be delicious, your wine be plentiful, your company be great, and your day be restful.


Happy Holidays!



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