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Exploring Southern Spain with Helena Nicklin

Food and drink is what often what makes a travel experience truly memorable. Getting to know the cuisine of other lands is a pleasure in itself, but coming across the perfect wine match can take the joy to a whole new level. While there are so many foodie regions to choose from as you sail around Europe, Southern Spain is a gastronome’s heaven. From Huelva to Marbella via Cadiz and Puerto Banus, here’s how to eat like a local along the coast of Andalucia, with Spanish wines to create the ideal pairings…

Jamon Ibérico (Iberian ham)

If you’re into charcuterie, Andalucia has some of the tastiest in Europe. Jamón Ibérico is produced from the Ibérico pig, reared on natural ‘Dehesa’ pastures along the border with Portugal around Huelva and the Los Pedroches Valley. It’s this special terroir that gives the meat its unique flavour. Serve this in wafer thin slices on a large plate with a chilled glass of fruity, pink ‘rosado’ wine.

Seek out: Muga Rioja Rosado

(Find it at home for £9.99 from Waitrose)

Lubina a la sal (salt baked sea bass)

Moving slowly along the stunning coastline towards Cadiz, stop off around Sanlúcar de Barrameda and enjoy a ‘paseo’ before sundown where everyone takes to the streets for a stroll. This whole region is home to the saline, nutty, uber-dry white wines known as Fino and Manzanilla. These dry sherries are a match made in heaven for this classic dish, where sea bass is baked in a thick crust of salt. For a slightly richer Fino that can stand up to heavier flavours, go for an ‘en rama’. This is a very rare style of Fino drawn straight from the cask, so it’s cloudy with intense flavours of toasted almonds, brioche and lemon peel.

Seek out: Tio Pepe Fino En Rama

(Find it at home for £16.99 at Majestic)

Rabo de Toro (oxtail stew)

As you round the southern tip of the coast around Gibraltar, you may be in the mood for something a bit more hearty. Created in Córdoba, but found all over Andalucia, this slow-braised beef dish with vegetables, spices and a lot of vino needs a rich, beefy red wine to match. Tempraniillo (aka Tinto Fino) is the grape to look for. Try one from the famous regions of Rioja or Ribera del Duero or for a more interesting choice, try the lesser known region of Toro (apt name, no?) where Bodegas Pintia is creating iconic wines rivalling those of its famous Ribera del Duero cousin, Vega Sicilia.

Seek out: Bodegas Pintia red 2014

(Find it at home for £58 at

Espetos de Sardinas (smoky, charcoal sardines)

Sometimes, simplicity is what you fancy and there’s nothing quite like the taste of freshly barbecued sardines on the beaches of Puerto Banus and Marbella. These small, meaty fish with smoky, crispy skins are a dream with the citrussy, peachy white wines made from the Albariño grape; Galicia’s finest.

Seek out: Mar de Frades Albariño 2018

(Find it at home for £18.95 from Great Western Wine)


Have you found some other combinations that you’d like to share? Tweet me your pairings @TheWinebird!

Helena Nicklin is an award-winning drinks writer and presenter of The Three Drinkers TV series on Amazon Prime. See more at