There’s nothing quite like the joy of discovery. I love roaming through the wine aisle and seeking out unfamiliar varietals and bottles. Occasionally, I’ve taken a risk and bought a bottle of a wine I’ve never heard of only to discover upon opening it that I’m not a fan. Fortunately, this is a rare occurrence and most of the time taking a risk on wine yields great results!
My latest risk resulted in my discovery of Mencía and I’m happy to report that I’ve struck gold!
Mencía is a Spanish and Portuguese wine that has only recently begun to come into its own. Originally used to blend table wines, the intensely concentrated flavors of Mencía wine are now being used to create bold single varietal bottles.
When it comes to flavor and aroma, Mencía is big, bold, and lacking in subtlety. The lack of nuance is by no means a bad thing, and fans of tasty reds should definitely give this wine a try. Mencía wine is known for its strong floral notes as well as tart fruity flavors. When tasting, it’s common to detect notes of pomegranate, blackberry, cherries, strawberries, and raspberries. Beyond the overt fruit flavors, look out for hints of licorice and pepper in the finish.
Mencía is a fairly full-bodied wine and has a high acidity as well as a large number of tannins. If you’re not a fan of tannins, steer clear of the young bottles and investigate some of the aged options. Mature Mencía wines have a considerably lower amount of tannins as well as pleasant notes of vanilla and other sweet spices.
Like other punchy reds, Mencía is an ideal wine to pair with food. In fact, shy of fish it pairs well with pretty much any protein. Cured meats are particularly well matched to this wine. Try having a glass of Mencía with some pastrami, corned beef, salami, or pepperoni. Gamey meats also pair nicely with Mencía. Try matching the wine with some duck, peasant, or venison.
When it comes to vegetables, focus on mushroom and tomato-based dishes when pairing with Mencía. Cabbage, onions, bell peppers, and lentils also go well with the wine.
Mencía goes well with sharp hard cheeses like cheddar and Manchego.
Wines to try
Descendientes de José Palacios Bierzo Pétalos ($21)
A lovely balanced bottle with notes of cherry and black currants.
Raul Pérez Bierzo Ultreia St. Jacques ($15)
Tart and acidic with a pleasant cinnamon aftertaste.
Guimaro Ribeira Sacra ($16)
Intensely floral with a strong hit of tart fruits.