These toasted almonds are super addicting! They’re full of smoky flavor and accented with rosemary and lemon zest. The perfect snack for a tapas party!
I’m super excited to recently have discovered the wines of Garnacha (or Grenache as they are more commonly known in the United States). Garnacha/Grenache wines predominantly come from the eastern part of Spain and the south of France. I’m familiar with Garnacha blends (my favorite is a Spanish blend that I always order when my husband and I go out for date night) but I was pleasantly surprised to learn that these wines are coming of age as a varietal. A new generation of winemakers in Spain and Roussilon, France have been taking the stage over the past generation and crafting wines that are expressive and well-balanced. I have to say – they’re doing a good job. These wines are complex but very drinkable. Perfect for an afternoon tapas party. Which is exactly how I celebrated them. With a tapas party in my front yard with some friends and neighbors. Stellar Mediterranean wines are best served in Mediterranean style – with quality food and conversation with quality people in a natural setting.
The areas in which Garnacha/Grenache are cultivated are know as Protected Designations of Origin. The PDO works directly with the European Union to make sure that strict quality standards are met and that the profiles of this varietal are raised. Among the wines of Garnacha, this Las Moradas was a crowd favorite. It was light but complex, very drinkable, and paired well with our smoky toasted almonds. It started out light and little sweet and then ended on a smoky and slightly peppery note. I highly recommend this wine for your next get-together.
It’s super cool to learn that Grenache wines come from France as well as Spain. This white is from the Roussillon region of France. I generally lean more toward reds but this was so pleasant I couldn’t help but enjoy it. I’m trying to learn more about wine in general and it’s fun to not only taste but experience the wine I’m drinking. I’ve been roping a friend into teaching me the ways of wine and this one was interesting because the smell is sweet but the taste is more crisp, tart, and even a little vegetal. I love when wines surprise you like that.
This Particular from Spain was a welcome addition to the party. It’s earthy, deep, and dark. We picked up the flavor of currants and dark berries. There’s a buttery quality at the start and a tartness at the end. I thought this one paired well with a creamy Brie cheese. I tried to find some Spanish cheese, but hey, I live in a small town. Sometimes you just have to take what you can get. I also decided that Garnacha/Grenache wine bottles have the coolest labels. Seriously, I’d buy these wines just for the labels!
Among the lighter of the Spanish reds was the El Circo. This one was quite a bit lighter than the others – both in taste and color. There was a simplicity that made it very easy to drink and enjoy. There were flavors of melon. This wine would be perfect for summer sipping.
To round things out we enjoyed a port from Roussillon. This one was a bit of a surprise. I generally don’t drink much port wine so I was pretty blown away by the intense flavor. It’s definitely sweeter than the others. There was a heavy taste of molasses and dark cherry. There are also notes of caramel or burnt sugar. This one was a crowd pleaser!
You can’t throw a Mediterranean-style tapas party without tapas. Tapas are Spanish-style snacks or ‘small plates’ that are often served with wine. Tapas come in all shapes and forms – from dips to seafood to olives. One of my favorites is spiced and toasted nuts. Toasted almonds to be exact. These Smoky Rosemary and Lemon Toasted Almonds are downright addicting and incredibly easy to make. [Recipe below]
These toasted almonds get their flavor from one of my all-time favorite spices – smoked paprika. It also gives them a beautiful red color. There are accents of fresh rosemary and lemon zest. They’re also a little salty because snacks that are served with booze need some salt. [Recipe below]
I highly recommend grabbing a few friends and neighbors to sit down to some great Mediterranean wine and tapas. Who says you need a holiday or special occasion to indulge a little? I’ve never been too into following the rules. I say if the mood strikes – drink some wine and talk about life! Another great thing about these wines is that they’re super economical – most of them range from $10-$20 (US). So, your afternoon soiree won’t break the bank. It’s also surprisingly fun to hang out somewhere as simple as the front yard!
Did you know that September 15th is International Garnacha/Grenache Day? Mark your calendars and pick up a bottle to celebrate!
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These toasted almonds are super addicting! They're full of smoky flavor and accented with rosemary and lemon zest. The perfect snack for a tapas party!
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Spread 1 lb. (or 3 cups) of raw almonds on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 1/2 Tbsp. of olive oil or avocado oil. Make sure the almonds are evenly coated in the oil.
Sprinkle 4 tsp. of smoked paprika over the almonds. Toss to coat evenly.
Chop 2 Tbsp. of fresh rosemary. Sprinkle the rosemary evenly over the almonds.
Zest 2 lemons over the almonds. Toss the almonds in the rosemary and lemon to coat.
Sprinkle 1 tsp. or so of salt over the almonds. Toss to coat.
Place the baking sheet in the oven and toast for 15 minutes. Shake the pan a few times to prevent almonds from burning.
Once almonds are toasted remove pan from oven and sprinkle with an additional 1/2 tsp. or so of salt. Grate any remaining zest on top of almonds.
Allow almonds to cool slightly and serve.
Adjust salt levels to taste.