Eat and Drink like Hemingway in Spain’s Navarra Region

I’ll get this out first and be done with it — I’m absolutely not into bullfighting or rhino hunting. However, like millions of others, I fell in love with the works of Ernest Hemingway decades ago and haven’t properly separated myself from the fantasy of his creation since. In his iconic work, The Sun Also Rises, friends spend time in Pamplona, a city filled with Northern Spanish culture.

books and wine, wine for book group, wine paired with books
Cover art from The Sun Also Rises

Though the friends (a loose term — these are unraveled relationships) spend much time focused on sex and bullfighting there is an above-average focus on food and drink. As is Hemingway’s custom – the reader becomes hungry and thirsty for more. Navarra on the lips becomes an irresistible character.

Navarra Food and Wine

Navarra is located in Northern Spain, bordering Basque Country and Rioja. In addition to geographical borders, the region shares a 300-year historical connection with France, stitched together by years of faithful Roman Catholic pilgrims as they journey the Camino de Santiago.

This is one of Spain’s oldest Denominacion de Origen (DO), established in 1939 and encompassing five distinct areas. Tierra Estella, Valdiz Arbe, Baja Montana, Ribera Alta and Ribera Baja. Because the region enjoys swaths of Atlantic, Continental and Mediterranean climates – there is variety in the wines.

Soils are distinct as well with clay, limestone and pebble vineyards found throughout the DO. Navarra is a huge region, diverse and all aspects — there’s a Navarra wine for every chapter in The Sun Also Rises – I dare you to test it!

Spanish wine, rosato wine, rosado wine, wine
Navarra wines are diverse come in red, rosé and white. Credit: Jill Barth

Wines from the area come from 90% red-skinned grapes to produce both red and rosé wines, which are made from the saignée method. White wines are also made here, as are a smidge of dessert wines.

The food reflects a culture of conservation and agriculture. White asparagus and piquillo peppers are native here. Foie gras, txistorra sausage and embutidos (charcuterie) are emblems of artisanal preparation and years of tradition. Speak of Spain, anywhere in the world, and people crave tapas – Navarra has a thriving Pintxos (tapas) culture, reflected in the many eateries in Pamplona that appear as characters in Hemingway’s book.

Cheese such as Roncal and Idiazabal comes from the milk of native Latza sheep, which also produces a dessert called cuajada – made of curdled milk resulting. I haven’t tried it, but I’ve read that it is underrated and delicious.

Compared frequently to neighboring stronghold Rioja, it’s not fair to fit the two regions together on a glass-by-glass basis. They are distinct from each other culturally and in flavor. It’s well worth it to get to know Navarra for the inspiration that she is.

Wine Pairing Weekend

Our Wine Pairing Weekend writer and blogger group have gathered around the theme of Navarra. Enjoy the stories and ideas shared here and then pop into our Twitter chat on April 14, 2018. Here’s what to expect:

Here on L’Occasion we:  “Eat and Drink like Hemingway in Spain’s Navarra Region”

Nancy Brazil of Pull That Cork: “Wines of Navarra and a Meal to Match”

David Crowley of Cooking Chat: “Steak with Manchego Mushroom Sauce with Red Wine from Navarra”

Jade Helm of  Tasting Pour: “Lamb Sofrito Nachos Night of Navarra Wines”

Nicole Ruiz Hudson of Somm’s Table: “Cooking to the Wine: Senorio de Otazu and Broiled Skirt Steak with Romesco Sauce” 

Wendy Klik of A Day in The Life on the Farm:  “A taste of Navarra Spain”

Camilla M. Mann of Culinary Adventures with Camilla: “Pacific Rock Crab Claws + 2016 Otazu Merlot Rosado “

Jennifer Gentile Martin of Vino Travels:“Pilgrimage to Navarra with Bodega Inurrieta”

Jane Niemeyer of  Always Ravenous: “What Foods to Pair with Wines from Navarra Spain” 

Sarah Ozimek of Curious Cuisiniere: “Basic Spanish Flan and Navarra Wine”

Cindy Rynning of Grape Experiences: “¡Salud! to Tapas Night and the Wines of Navarra”

Julie Santiago of Wine N Friends “Taste of Pintxos and Navarra Wines”

Rupal Desai Shankar The Syrah Queen:  “Navarra – Spain’s Hidden Gem”

Lauren Walsh  The Swirling Dervish: “Sipping and Cooking with Patxaran: a Taste of Ancient Navarra” 

Host Gwendolyn Alley The Wine Predator: “Along the Way with Wine and Food from Navarra Spain.”

Many of us received a variety of samples from Wines of Navarra for which we are grateful.
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22 Comments Add yours

  1. Jerry says:

    Ah, Papa in Spain. As they say, one had to be there then to appreciate what it must have been like for him. A small memory I treasure, though not in Navarre, was passing a small bistro on a side street in Madrid, around ’91 as I recall now, and noticing the message printed on the skirt of their striped awning. HEMINGWAY NEVER DRANK HERE.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jill Barth says:

      Hemingway never drank here, but Jerry Clark Did!

      Like

  2. Wendy says:

    Believe it or not I have never read Hemingway. And I read A LOT but a lot of the classics are still out there waiting for me. I think I will pick up a copy of The Sun Also Rises. Thanks Jill.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jill Barth says:

      Wendy, you’d love A Moveable Feast – Start there and fall in love!

      Like

  3. Cooking Chat says:

    I like the idea of Hemingway as a launching point for discussion of Navarra. I might have to do a re-read of The Sun Also Rises and do the wine per chapter thing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jill Barth says:

      Maybe we do a wine book club? That would be fun.

      Like

  4. I haven’t been to the Navarra but saw bull fighting in Madrid. Wasn’t my favorite thing to watch, but was an experience. I’ve never read any of those books, but a wonderfully written book can really take you to the place as though you’re living it that’s for sure. For now we can always pretend like we are by sampling the wines ; )

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jill Barth says:

      Don’t we learn so much sampling wine? It’s something like a book in a bottle.

      Like

  5. You’ve inspired me to go pick up a copy of The Sun Also Rises. I’m sure I will enjoy reading it much more today (because I love wine) than I would have as a teen. Thanks for the nudge!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jill Barth says:

      Oh yes! Hemingway as adult is way more enjoyable than Hemingway as a teen. And wine, bien sûr !

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I think it’s time to revisit Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises”. This time, with wine!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jill Barth says:

      That is a plan! While you’re at it – do A Moveable Feast!

      Like

  7. Nicole Ruiz Hudson says:

    Love the literary connection here. I haven’t read the Sun also rises yet (although now I want to even more!) but as we drove around Spain a few years ago, my husband and I listened to For Whom the Bell Tolls on audio book. It made feel like I could picture the scenes all the more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jill Barth says:

      That’s a great memory! Thanks for sharing, Nicole. So much treasure in Spain.

      Like

  8. Time to reread “The Sun Also Rises” and try a few more wines from Navarra – for each chapter of course! Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

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