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The best drinks to pair with paella

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Paella is an emblematic dish of Spanish gastronomy that stands out for its wide variety of ingredients and flavours. The choice of drinks to pair with paella can transform and elevate the culinary experience, creating a perfect pairing.

Whether it is Paella Valenciana, seafood, vegetarian, black or mixed, each type of paella has its own ideal wine recommendations. Also, if you want to learn more about the preparation and the best pairings for this iconic dish, at Paella Barcelona Cooking School we offer corporate workshops to learn how to cook unique paellas.

Below, we will introduce you to the different types of paella, their pairing characteristics and, most importantly, recommend the best drinks to pair with your paella.

Types of paella and their pairing characteristics

As we have said, paella is an emblematic dish of Spanish gastronomy that has diversified into different versions, each with its own characteristics for pairing with specific drinks.

From Paella Barcelona Cooking School, we are going to explore the different types of paella and the wine recommendations that best suit each one:

Valencian Paella

Valencian paella is the most traditional and authentic version of this Spanish dish. It is made with ingredients such as chicken, rabbit, green beans, garrofón (a variety of bean), tomato, olive oil, water, saffron and rice.

Its distinctive flavour comes from the balance of meat and fresh vegetables. For pairing this paella, we recommend a dry white wine such as a Verdejo or Sauvignon Blanc, which perfectly complements the herbaceous flavours and light sweet and sour touch of the dish.

Seafood Paella

Seafood paella is a popular variation that includes a variety of seafood such as prawns, mussels, squid and clams. This type of paella has an intense marine flavour and is characterised by its freshness and lightness.

A young, fruity white wine, such as an Albariño or an un-oaked Chardonnay, is ideal for bringing out the flavours of the sea and balancing the saltiness of the dish.

Vegetarian Paella

Vegetarian paella is made exclusively with fresh vegetables such as peppers, artichokes, asparagus, green beans, peas, tomatoes and sometimes mushrooms. It is a healthy and delicious option that stands out for its country flavour and variety of textures.

For pairing this paella, a fresh and light rosé wine, such as a Rosé de Navarra, is perfect to complement the vegetable flavours without overpowering them.

Black paella

Paella negra, also known as black rice, is characterised by its dark colour due to the squid ink used in its preparation. In addition to squid, it often includes other seafood and sometimes fish.

Its flavour is deep and slightly smoky. A white wine with good acidity and structure, such as a Godello or a Rías Baixas, will help cleanse the palate and enhance the nuances of the sea and the squid ink.

Mixed paella

Paella mixta combines ingredients from Valencian paella and seafood paella, including both meats such as chicken and rabbit, as well as a variety of seafood. It is a rich and complex choice in flavours, offering the best of both worlds.

A young, light red wine, such as a Tempranillo or a Garnacha, can be an excellent choice for pairing, as its acidity and fruity notes complement both meats and seafood well.

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Wine recommendations for pairing with paellas

Find the perfect pairing for paellas by type with our wine recommendations, enhancing the flavours and experience of this iconic Spanish dish.

Wines to pair with Paella Valenciana

Paella Valenciana, with its mix of rabbit, chicken, green beans and tomato, benefits from young, fruity red wines such as tempranillo or mencía. These wines bring a freshness and lightness that perfectly complement the richness of paella.

In addition, a barrel-fermented white such as a chardonnay or godello can be an excellent choice, as its barrel ageing adds a complexity and structure that harmonises with the deep flavours of this traditional dish.

Another drink option to pair with paella could be a rosé Garnacha wine, which offers a balance between fruit and acidity.

Wines to pair with Seafood Paella

Seafood Paella, rich in squid, prawns, mussels and more, is enhanced with fresh and light white wines such as albariño, verdejo or sauvignon blanc. These wines, with their high acidity and citrus notes, cleanse the palate and enhance the flavours of the seafood.

Other drink options to pair with paella are Txakoli, with its effervescence and freshness, or a high quality Cava, with its fine and persistent bubbles, can add a special touch to the enjoyment of this dish.

We can also consider white wines aged on the lees, which provide greater creaminess and complexity.

Wines to accompany Vegetarian Paella

Although without meat or seafood, Paella Vegetariana offers tasty and nutritious flavours that can be complemented with a fresh and light rosé wine, such as a Tempranillo or Garnacha rosé, which brings notes of red fruit and freshness.

Another excellent option is a good Cava, which, with its balance of freshness and acidity, enhances the flavours of the vegetables and provides a refreshing pairing experience.

A young white wine, such as a viura or a sauvignon blanc, can also be a good pairing drink for paella.

Wines to pair with Paella Negra

Paella Negra, or black rice, with its characteristic dark colour and intense flavour thanks to the squid or octopus ink, is enhanced by aromatic white wines such as gewürztraminer or a sparkling muscatel.

These wines, with their touch of sweetness and floral notes, contrast and complement the intensity of this dish.

Another drink option to pair with paella is a white Albariño wine, which, with its high acidity and minerality, can balance the deep, marine flavours of black paella.

Wines to accompany Paella Mixta

Paella Mixta, which combines the best of Seafood Paella and Valencian Paella, opens up a wide range of pairing possibilities. From rosé wines, which with their notes of red fruit and freshness provide a good balance, to fruity red wines such as tempranillo or mencía, which enhance the flavours of meat and seafood.

White wines such as verdejo, chardonnay or godello are also excellent choices, offering an acidity and structure that harmonise with the various ingredients of this versatile and delicious dish.

For a special touch, a sparkling wine such as a Cava can be the perfect choice, adding a dimension of bubbles and freshness to the pairing.

Tips for choosing the best drink for paella enjoyment

  • Consider the flavour intensity of the paella: If the paella is flavourful and with strong ingredients, such as Paella Negra, choose a drink with character and body to balance the flavours.
  • Refreshing options: For lighter paellas, such as Vegetarian Paella, opt for a cool, light drink to complement the freshness of the vegetables.
  • Experiment with variety: Don’t be afraid to try different types of wines, beers or even cocktails to discover new combinations that enhance the flavours of paella.
  • Consider diners’ preferences: If you have guests with specific tastes, make sure you have a variety of drink options to satisfy everyone.

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Now that you know the best drinks to pair with paella, it’s time to learn how to cook an authentic Spanish paella, and at Paella Barcelona Cooking School we give you the perfect opportunity to do so by collaborating with other colleagues in our corporate paella workshops. Come in and discover them!

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