Ultimate Tapas in Spanish Wine Country

I love Spanish food—particularly in Spain.

It starts with incredible food products including melt-in-mouth sweet pata negra hams, meaty Cantabrian anchovies, crunchy quick-fried chipirones (baby squid) and aromatic green olive oils.  

Then comes the festive presentation—particularly in tapas places where you can share lots of small, artful plates and then gesture to a neighbor's food and say, "We'll have some of that!"

There is an irresistible excitement to point-and-choose dining—even if you don't always know what you're eating.

So I was thrilled when Gonzalo Iturriaga, winemaker at Spain's iconic Vega Sicilia, offered to lead me on a Saturday afternoon tapas crawl in Valladolid.

Valladolid (pop. 300,000) is known for its tasty roasted meats and charcuterie and award-winning tapas. It's also the wine capital of Castile and León—surrounded by appellations Ribera del Duero, Rueda, Cigales and Toro—meaning restaurants have good selections, with wines by the glass typically costing only 2 to 4.50 euros ($5 or less).

Iturriaga, 39, an agricultural engineer and enologist, moved here with his young family in 2015 after he was recruited by Vega Sicilia from a France-based winery-supply company. Since then, the lean, bearded Iturriaga says, "I've gained [15 pounds]."

"Tapas is a way of living," Iturriaga explained after we met on the town's main square.

It was 1 p.m., an hour that in most of Europe would be the height of the lunch rush, but in Spain we were, as Iturriaga put it, "quite early."

Our first stop was Los Zagales.....read the full blog (free) at winespectator.com