Tastes of Toledo

Rising above the plains and vineyards of Castilla-La Mancha in Spain, the craggy stone walls of Toledo beckon. Pronounced Toh-LAY-doh, this seductive Spanish city not only boasts 2,000 years of well-preserved history, but its winding, cobblestone streets are easily accessed by foot, making the city a veritable walking museum. But it is also situated not far from the vineyards of La Mancha and Mentrida (a Denomination of Origin located right outside the city walls), making it a great place to drink wine and taste different tapas dishes in the city's many bodegas (wine cellars).

"The wine here has a philosophy, a culture, and you need to feel that," says Hugo Vicente, owner of Wine Time. Check out these stops:

Taberna El Botero (Travesía de San Torcuato 3, taberna; elbotero@yahoo.es). This little tavern is perhaps the most historic wine bar in this historic city. Located in an old wine-skins factory, it not only shows off its original tile floor, but also boasts an impressive array of wines by the glass. Order a glass of the 2006 Finca Los Nevados, a Viognier aged in oak for three months, paired with a tapa of rare tuna, strawberry and mint. The taste of this perfect pair lingers long after one swallow.

El Foro de Toledo (Plaza de Zocodover 8; mazapantoledo.com). This restaurant/bar/pastry shop sits on the city's main plaza, allowing for superb people watching. But since it also makes its own marzipan pastries—a centuries-old Toledo specialty—it's a great place for dessert, too. Before enjoying sweets, however, enjoy a very simple tapa—chorizo with honey spread on crusty bread (see recipe below)—with a glass of 2001 Finca La Estacada Selección Varietal, a blend of Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and three other grapes. The sweetness of the honey and the smoke of the sausage pair up divinely with this dark wine.

Adolfo Colección 1924 (Nuncio Viejo 1; grupoadolfo.com). Owned by Toledo's most famous chef, Adolfo Muñoz, this sleek, chic wine bar feels as though it belongs in Madrid. Not only does it serve up innovative cuisine and plenty of fabulous wines right in the center of town, but you can also buy the wines, olive oils and traditional Spanish foods in the bar's basement store. Savor a simple yet mod tapa of melted Manchego cheese drizzled with olive juice along with a glass of 2006 Finca Antigua, a Spanish Syrah offering just a hint of olive that marries perfectly with the tapa.

Recipe: Honey Chorizo Spread

2 links Spanish chorizo, uncooked but sliced into half-inch pieces

1/3 cup honey

1.)  In a medium sized saucepan, cook chorizo over high heat for about 6 to 8 minutes.

2.) In a food processor fitted with a standard blade, chop chorizo and honey until chunky but well combined or about five minutes. Marinate for at least one hour. Serve with crackers or bread.

Yield: About 3/4 cup

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 8 minutes

Chill Time: 1 hour

Serving size: about 1 to 2 tablespoons




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