New York City’s Take on Spanish Wine and Cheese


My two favorite food groups are wine and cheese.  Two “groups” that, when enjoyed alone, are wonderful.  But when paired together with their perfect other half…orgasmic.  The perfect harmony and balance between the two is an example of two components coming together to form a whole that’s bigger than its parts.  You can imagine my sheer excitement to attend the Spanish Wines and Cheeses course at Murray’s, and my after-glow of sharing each delicious highlight with you.

The class was situated on the 2nd floor of Murray’s Cheese, and led by instructors Kerin Auth (proprietor of the Spanish wine boutique in the East Village, Tinto Fino) and Elizabeth Chubbuck (the brilliant woman behind the cheeses at all the fancy NYC restaurants…think Daniel and Eleven Madison Park).  Both poured out passion and a wealth of knowledge about their respective subjects.  Here’s a few nuggets of knowledge (CliffsNotes, if you will) I took away from the evening:

  • While the tongue can discern 5 different tastes, flavor is the combination of taste and aromatics (think peppermint!)
  • Men can smell 5,000 different smells, women 10,000.  Wine and cheese pairing is as much about actively engaging your sense of smell as it is enjoying the taste.
  • Spain is the #1 country for planted vineyard space, but ranks #3 in production behind France and Italy when it comes to wines.  The rest of the leftover grapes are used to make grape alcohol.
  • There is no such thing as Spanish champagne.  For Spanish sparkling wines, such as Cava, twist the cork 6 times to release, always keeping your hand on the cork.  You won’t hear a thing!
  • There are 5 S’s to wine drinking: See, Swirl, Smell, Sip, Swallow/Spit
  • You don’t, however, want to swirl bubbly wine because the more you swirl the more you release the aromatics…bad when it comes to bubbles!
  • Sheeps’ milk has the highest fat content with the exception of reindeer milk (notice the glistening sweat on top?)
  • The most important lesson to take away from a wine and food pairing: “What grows together goes together”
 And of course, we can’t forget the wine descriptions.  A few of my favorites for the evening were:

Colet I Navazos: “It’s like drinking diamonds.”

Vinya D’Irto Rosat 2012: “I love the salty, saline edge.  It’s what Hemingway drank when he was in Spain.”

Vina Beronia Rioja Gran Reserva 2005: “It smells like warm cola and cherry cough syrup.  The taste is a marriage of leather barnyard, lead pencils, and animal poo.”

Animal poo.  It doesn’t get any better than that, now does it?



Jessica Tiare Bowen
Jessica Tiare Bowen lives in the juicy Big Apple with her adorable pink-nosed chihuahua, Gillman. He's the inspiration for her first published children's book, "Park Avenue Pound Puppy." The book is the combined result of her two greatest passions: pooches and penning stories.

Her passions include art, urban hikes through Manhattan, drinking coffee with 3 creams and 6 sugars, making extremely detailed itineraries and traveling to far away places, singing along to Broadway shows, Netflix movie nights, discovering incredible treasures at Goodwill and thrift stores, and listening to stories from little people under 7 and big people over 70.

She started her career as New York City Teaching Fellow, teaching elementary school and theater arts at a special education school in the South Bronx for 6 years. She is now a Special Education School Improvement Specialist working in public schools throughout New York City. She is the Editor-In-Chief of the online New York City travel magazine, Used York City. The magazine focuses on finding the best of New used by New Yorkers. She is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, and an ASPCA Ambassador.
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