¡Campeones del Mundo! Congratulations, España!

Contributed by Rick Fisher from
Bodega: Adventures in Spanish Food & Wine

For the past couple of days I could feel the tension and excitement mount as I and many around me prepared for Spain’s entry onto the World Cup Finals stage. This is the first time Spain has been to the finals (compared to three for the Netherlands); in the history of the World Cup no team has ever lost their first game to claim the trophy. Well, history was made today!

There is no better way to spend a day watching your favorite team play than with your best friends – and that’s just what I did! I have been preparing for this match (probably not quite as hard as our team has) for a few days, and it was well worth it! What to serve? What to drink? Well, I had a multitude of ideas and a plethora of choices – and none disappointed!

Of course, a celebratory toast was in order at the beginning of the match. It does not matter who wins as long as it is a good game. Yeah, right! I opted for a NV Codorniu Pinot Noir Cava (red in honor of our home country) and after quickly downing that bottle opened a 2006 Gramona Gran Cuvee Cava. Both were excellent and well-received by my guests as a fitting start to the competition. Munchies were in order for the early part of the game (before the “real” celebration took place) and we enjoyed some arbequina olives from Cataluña (El Masroig in Montsant), Tortilla Española, Manchego cheese, and some sliced Fuet (a thin, dry cured Catalan sausage).

With the score at halftime 0-0, I decided this was the perfect time sauté up some Padrón peppers and serve them alongside some crostini brushed with piquillo pepper mousse. With this we enjoyed a 2008 Pazo de Galegos Albariño from Rias Baixas. Anticipating the team’s win I was anxiously awaiting our celebratory wine and accompanying dish; but would it happen? Regular time – gone. Half one of overtime – gone, too! When Andrés Iniesta (who plays for FC Barça) scored the winning shot in the 116th minute of the second half of overtime we went crazy and my commemorative celebration was just minutes away. Tick, tock, tick, tock. It was over! Spain had won it’s first World Cup and all was right in the world – well, at least in Spain and in my home! Break out the wine and food, again. (Incidentally, did anyone catch the Queen jumping up and down?!)

I quickly (having decided this well in advance) opened a 2005 Isis (Montsant) that was waiting for just an occasion. This blend of Garnacha, Syrah, and Cariñena epitomizes our heroes in red and yellow: smooth, spicy, and with some “kick”! Quickly following our celebratory toast I headed for the kitchen to prepare a Fideuà (basically, a paella made with noodles instead of rice). We were soon partaking of a feast fit for, well, anyone in Spain who was as happy as we were! The Isis did not last long. Our encore wine was a 2005 Ijalba from Rioja made from 100% Graciano. Another excellent choice! Both wines complemented our meal with the ease and finesse that only (at least in my opinion) a Spanish wine can.

Is 2010 the year of Spain in sports? Last week Rafa Nadal won his second Wimbeldon title in the last three years; Alberto Contador is currently third after Stage 8 of the Tour de France. Stay tuned as the celebratory toasts just keep getting bigger and better!

Life is short. Drink Spanish wine!

Rick Fisher is an independent Spanish wine & food journalist for "CataVino", author and publisher of the blog "Bodega: Adventures in Spanish Food & Wine" and also a blog contributor on VinVillage.com.