Remember how last week I said from here on out I’d be sharing holiday related recipes? Well, I lied. Though, these albondias would be perfect for a Thanksgiving appetizer, tapas style! For today’s recipe, I’ve partnered with Wines of Garnacha to spread the word about the wonderful wine that is Garnacha/Grenache, which perfectly pairs with the delicious Spanish meatballs I’m sharing with you all today.
First, a little background on the birthplace and origins of these surprisingly affordable wines, with a price tag of between $10–20. Don’t worry, we won’t tell your guests that you didn’t spend a fortune on your special imported wine.
The Grenache/Garnacha grape has been cultivated in the Spanish regions of Calatayud, Campo de Borja, Cariñena, Somontano and Terra Alta, as well as the Roussillon region of France. The grapes grown in each of these Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) are as different from one another as pinot noir grapes grown in the California’s Santa Lucia Highlands American Viticultural Area (AVA) versus those grown in Oregon’s Willamette Valley AVA.
Wines produced by the Grenache grape are generally a raspberry or strawberry, fruit-forward wine with white peppery, spicy undertones. Winemakers have many options with this red, pink (gris or gray) or white grape, producing a Grenache blanc, rosé, or a traditional red that tends to be a bit higher in alcohol content when compared to other varietals.
If you share a concern in regard to sustainability in growing grapes, the Grenache grape thrives in challenging water situations. Its roots burrow deep into the soil, searching out water tables below; the vine isn’t dependent on rainwater to survive. The vine itself adjusts itself quickly to environmental challenges and changes in temperature, and thrives in long growing seasons—making it a perfect Mediterranean wine grape.
Americans are increasingly discovering just how perfect Grenache wines go with the spicy foods so many of us are fond of. There is nothing more heavenly on the palate than to enjoy a nice Grenache with a traditional Spanish seafood paella, or a smoky BBQ tri tip. Always think Grenache when serving foods spiced with thyme, tarragon, garlic, chives and fennel, or grilled meats. Your palate will thank you, and your meal will be all the more memorable.
I’ve grown up hearing stories of my mother’s trip to Spain when she was 15. Yes, it was a long time ago. She confesses to having done plenty of imbibing of Spanish wines, including an afternoon of debauchery in Pamplona during the Festafil of Sn Fermin, downing spicy Spanish wine from a bota bag while sancing in the street. One of her fondest memories include sitting at the Plaza Mayor in Madrid after a day in Spanish language immersion classes, enjoying “red wine” (which in hindsight was no doubt Garnacha) accompanied by albondigas (meatballs in sauce), papatas bravas (potatoes), Banderillas, cold seafood platter including calamari and most exotic—marinated pickled octopus.
Part of our collection of Grenache wines includes a Banyuls, produces in the aforementioned Roussillon region. This apertif wine was born to be enjoyed with the very best dark chocolate you can get your hands on, and we promise to keep your secret on just how affordable this special dessert wine really is.
One of my favorite ways to enjoy a new (to me) wine is by cooking with it, and in this instance, Garnacha blanc was an ideal wine to be used. You don’t want a wine that’s too sweet, and definitely not one with any characteristics of oak for this recipe.
If you’d rather serve the albondigas as a main dish instead of an appetizer, they’re tasty with rice and the sauce drizzled over the top.
Albondigas Ingredients and Cooking Method
*you might notice some ingredients listed several times in the cooking method below. These aren't accidental and are needed to prepare the meatballs, sauce, and mushroom topping.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1/2 pound ground pork
- 2, lightly beaten large eggs
- 1 tablespoon grenache blanc
- 4 tablespoons, minced parsley
- 1, smashed garlic clove
- 1 teaspoon spicy paprika
- to taste salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
- 3, halved tomatos
- minced, 1/2 cup yellow onion
- diced, 1/2 cup carrot
- 6, minced garlic cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon spicy paprika
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup grenache blanc
- 3 tablespoons dry sherry
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1/4 cup, chopped parsley
- 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
- 1 pound, cut into 1 inch pieces mixed mushrooms