Friday, July 12, 2019

Robatayaki and Rioja Wines, the Perfect Summertime Party #WinePW #Sponsored

This is a sponsored post written by me in conjunction with the July #WinePW Rioja event.
A wine samples was provided for this post and this page may contain affiliate links.

This month Jeff of FoodWineClick! is hosting the Wine Pairing Weekend bloggers as we delve into wines from Rioja. You can read his invitation here. The #WinePW bloggers will be posting and chatting on Saturday, July 13th. Feel free to join the live Twitter chat that morning at 8am Pacific time. Follow the hashtag #WinePW and add it to your comments so we can see your contributions.

And this is what the group has in store for you...


 Robatayaki and Rioja Wines

Not being very familiar with Rioja wines, I immediately emailed my friends from Spain who shared the following information...

Usually, in Spain, Spanish wines are classified into four categories depending on the time/years they have been aged in the oak barrel and in the bottle. The four groups are as follows:

  • Joven/cosecha - less than 6 months in the oak barrel
  • Crianza - 18 months in total and a minimum of six months in oak barrel
  • Reserva - 36 months in total and a minimum of twelve months in oak barrel
  • Gran Reserva -60 months in total and a minimum of eighteen months in oak barrel

Obviously, prices vary depending on the classification. Some wineries only produce one certain type of wine. Some of the most well-known Riojas are as follows:

  • One of the most expensive and very well-known is Vega Sicilia, if you can afford it! ;-)
  • Marqués de Murrieta Reserva has a reasonable price for the age and it's a good wine. The Gran Reserva from Marqués de Murrieta is very popular, although very expensive.
  • Muga Crianza - has a good price and it's good. This is probably one of the ones we like that can afford! It is filtered without chemical using only organic egg whites.
  • Marqués de Cáceres is a standard one, but good for the price.
  • Marqués de Riscal, not our favorite, but another one for standard price.

It's always nice to learn about wines from people who are very familiar with them. Muchas gracias, Susanna and Juan!


Several of the #WinePW bloggers were fortunate to receive a sample bottle from Bodegas LAN*. I received the Bodegas LAN 2012 Reserva, but wanted to round out the exploration and tracked down three other bottles of Rioja on my own based on Susanna's email. I purchased Bodegas LAN Rioja Gran Reserva 2010, Bodegas Muga Flor de Muga Rose 2017, and Marques de Murrieta Rioja Reserva 2014.


Then I invited myself over to our friends' house with the promise of wine if he grilled for me. A couple of years ago, they built a robatayaki (or robata for short) in their backyard. The robatayaki is an authentic style of Japanese cooking that originated hundreds of years ago on Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan. There industrious fishermen here created robatayaki by encasing charcoals into stone boxes.


Given the Asian origin of the grill, Jenn and I created a menu that paired Japanese-inspired dishes with three of my Spanish wines. The result: the perfect summertime party. And, even though this was a Fathers' Day celebration, the dads didn't seem to mind being put to work!

Grilled Stuffed Squid 
+ Bodegas Muga Flor de Muga Rosé 2017
suggested retail price $29.99 / wine.com

The first pairing was Grilled Stuffed Squid + Bodegas Muga Flor de Muga Rosé 2017. Get the recipe and reading about the pairing here. Yes, I did buy it for the label...but also because summertime means lots and lots of Rosés for me.


To the eye, this Rosé displays a very pale salmon color with steely glints. On the nose, I got summer stone fruits and sweet honeysuckle. The palate is remarkably complex given the lightness of the hue. At least I wasn't expecting such a lush, fleshy wine. This was a great match with my grilled squid!


Grilled Chicken with Tare Sauce
+ Bodegas LAN 2012 Reserva
suggested retail price $18.99/ wine.com, received as an industry sample

Bodegas LAN was founded in 1972 and named after the first letters of the three provinces in the Rioja DOC: Logrono (now La Rioja), Alava, and Navarra. This wine is a blend comprised of 92% Tempranillo, 8% Graciano. To the eye it is a brilliant, deep ruby color. To the nose, you get notes of plum mixed with vanilla and spice. On the tongue, the wine is well-structured and full-bodied. Complex layers made this a nice match for the tare sauce, a soy-based basting sauce. Jenn prefaced her email with this: "no two Japanese cooks make these exactly the same way, and probably don't follow a recipe. I started with a basic recipe and tasted as I went." Understood.

Jenn's Tare Sauce
  • 1/2 C  water with dashi (1 T) mixed in on medium heat
  • 1/4 C mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine)
  • 1/4 C soy sauce
  • 2 T sake
  • 3/4 t (packed) light brown sugar
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 1-inch-piece peeled ginger, sliced
Bring all ingredients to a boil in a small heavy saucepan. Stir until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until reduced to a generous 1/2 cup, approximately 20 minutes. Strain sauce through a fine mesh sieve; discard solids. Let cool. Note that this can be made 2 weeks ahead. Store in refrigerator in an airtight container until needed.


Grilled Steak with Yakiniku Sauce
Bodegas LAN Rioja Gran Reserva 2010
suggested retail price $24.99/ wine.com

From the same vintner as the previous wine, Bodegas LAN, this wine is aged longer. Still with that bright ruby hue, aromas for this wine were more herbaceous (think tarragon and fennel) with some earthy notes of tobacco and leather. Still full-bodied, I actually expected it to be more balanced and it wasn't. It bordered on too tannic for my tastes.

Jenn's Yakiniku Sauce
  • 3 T sake
  • 3 T soy sauce
  • 2 T mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine)
  • 1 t miso
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1/2 apple grated
  • Ginger grated
  • garlic grated
  • shallot grated
  • 1 T rice vinegar
  • 1 T bonito flakes
  • roasted white sesame seeds
In a mixing bowl, add all of the ingredients, to the apple, and stir to combine. Heat the sauce to simmer and add in the remaining ingredients. Keep simmering until thickened. Remove from the heat and allow the sauce to cool. Use immediately. Or for best flavor, cover the yakiniku sauce and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours to allow the flavors to meld.


While we initially paired the wines with their intended grillable, after that we just poured and drank whatever we wanted. Everyone loved the squid and rosé; surprisingly, we all preferred the Reserva to the Gran Reserva! I'm glad I had the opportunity to dive deeper into exploring Rioja wines. Thanks for that, Jeff.

And that's a wrap on the Rioja wine exploration. Next month, we'll be heading to New Zealand by wineglass with Lori of Dracaena Wines at the head. Looking forward to that. Stay tuned...

Bodegas LAN on the web, on Facebook, on Twitter
*Disclosure: I received a sample wine for recipe development, pairing, and generating social media traction. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the organizer and sponsors of this event.

8 comments:

  1. Love your cross-cultural pairings! Fascinating how your friends re-created this ancient style of Japanese barbecue. Goes to show barbecue isn’t just an American phenomenon.

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    1. It's definitely not just an American phenomenon. I haven't decided if I want to ask for a robatayaki in my backyard or a pizza oven! ;)

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  2. Oh my goodness, the food looks so mouthwatering, and I'm so envious of the Robatayaki. Really nice wine pairings for each course too. I'm getting hungry and thirsty!!

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  3. A feast of which to be very proud. I need to move closer so I can get included in these parties!!

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  4. I love that you often share all your wine and food pairing adventures with your neighbors. That is wonderful!

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  5. I can't decide which dish I want first! And it was fascinating to learn about the cooking method and see photos of it underway. Always something new and cool in each of your posts!

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  6. That grill looks so great, and of course, the food looks fabulous. What luck to have friends you can hijack!

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  7. Haven't heard of this kind of grill, interesting! Looks like you had some great food coming off it too. I'm really curious to try a Rioja rosado now.

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