We checked in with Rioja Pour Genius winner Charles Joly, chief mixologist at the Drawing Room in Chicago, and asked his thoughts about Rioja, wine cocktails and the best wines to pair with foods:
Why is Rioja gaining popularity, especially by the glass? Rioja offers a wonderful range of expressions that really offer wines to satisfy a very diverse group of palates. Whether a guest is feeling old world or new, pairing with food or enjoying a glass on its own, there’s really something for everyone here.
What types of customers are drawn to Rioja wine cocktails? I don’t think there’s a specific type of customer per se. I love to use wine in cocktails for a variety of reasons. First, it obviously appeals to the guest who is typically a wine drinker and unfamiliar with cocktails. I can create something of a “gateway” cocktail using flavors and ingredients they are familiar with. I think the wine also really presents itself as a very interesting cocktail ingredient. It’s unexpected and refreshing while offering great depth.
Why do you think Rioja is different than other food-friendly wines? I can’t imagine a much better time to be on the business end of a glass of wine or a proper cocktail than today. We are truly living in a time when both our wine and spirit producers are delivering some of the most diverse and high quality expressions every crafted for us to enjoy. The combination of differing climates, stylistic exploration by producers and the long heritage the region enjoys truly produce a full spectrum of wines. In almost every case, once the food is gone you’re sure to be able to enjoy the rest of your bottle without diminishing the experience.
Thanks Charles, for creating the perfect Rioja cocktail!