“When in Spain.” That has been our theme this year and with so much to explore, it will continue to guide our narrative. Mercat’s menu defines Spanish cooking today. From “Best Of” lists to Iron Chef Accolades, Mercat has no shortage of culinary prowess. However, with great food, great wine must be an equal partner. Neither should dominate the experience, but should work in harmony.
Our list is an expression of terroirs sweeping from the Southern coasts to the rainy climates of the North. Ranging from the lesser known Txakoli (occasionally poured straight into your mouth from a porron), to world-renowned Riojas, you’ll unearth boutique producers featured on our meticulously refined wine list.
Great wine doesn’t begin and end with your typical red, white and rose. To truly sip the tastes of Spain, you have to delve into vermouth. For many people vermouth has always been something that sat in your refrigerator (yes, vermouth should be refrigerated), collecting dust until it’s time to mix up the occasional Manhattan. Awareness has grown with the current Negroni Renaissance, but few people outside of Spain have realized just how well vermouth can hold its own, when given the opportunity.
So, what is vermouth? To put is simply, it is a fortified wine. Grab a bottle of wine, toss in a distilled spirit and, voila, you’ve fortified the base wine with a stronger foundation. Perhaps more familiar options call out: Sherry, Port, Madeira or Marsala. Vermouth is unique because of the depth of flavors influenced by the addition of aromatic elements as well as the wide range of sweet to dry vermouths. While it is now sipped for pleasure, vermouth originated 21 centuries ago as the Chinese mixed various herbs with fortified wine as a remedy for a variety of ailments. Vermouth is still considered to be beneficial to one’s health, though now typically as a digestive.
Aside from its unique flavor profiles why are Spaniards so satisfied with this patio sipper? It pairs with EVERYTHING. Vermouth loves salt, roasted nuts, cheese, and charcuterie, chocolate. A little bitter, a little herbaceous and a little sweet, Vermouth is best enjoyed on the rocks, with tonic or a freshly chilled pour. Your martini won’t find nearly as many legs with food, so next time you’re in Mercat, inquire about vermouth and open your palette to a new world of wine.