Wine Pairing with Celia Cruz’s “Celia and Johnny”

The Wine

Via De La Plata “Cava Rose”


   Cava is Spain’s iconic sparkling wine style, and the Iberian Peninsula’s answer to Champagne. The traditional grape varieties used in Cava were Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo. However, French grape varieties like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay have been allowed to join the Cava party as well.
   While the original Cavas were produced exclusively in Catalonia, modern Cava can come from various parts of Spain like Extremadura. Bodegas Via De La Plata produced the Extremadura’s first Cava back in 1983 and has been making beautiful wines ever since.
   This elegant yet approachable rosé wine of Garnacha and Pinot Noir by Bodegas Via De La Plata is so refreshing and clean I want to take a bath in it. Gentle aromatics of flowers and lychee greet your nose but big tropical fruits await your mouth. Cashews and bitter toffee linger on the palette as the wine trails off with a dry finish.
   This wine really is perfect for any occasion; Brunch, before dinner or just by itself, you’ll find that this cava that will leave everyone happy.

The Music

Celia Cruz “Celia and Johnny”

Celia Cruz album Celia and Johnny

In 1968 Johnny Pacheco created the Fania All-Stars, a “Dream Team” with the most famous singers, soloists and orchestra directors from Cuba, Puerto Rican, Dominican Republic and musicians living in New York’s Spanish Harlem and the Bronx(nuyoricans). They began to lay the foundation of a music based on the sounds of their own countries intertwined with the new experiences of a newly adopted country. They called it “salsa” and it was a truly brilliant marketing strategy to repackage to these beloved rhythms.
   After Celia’s exile from Cuba in 1961, Dominican-born Johnny Pacheco invited her to record with him in order to allow her the opportunity to sing more freely and to truly project her unique voice. He felt that Celia’s vocal potential had not, as yet, truly reached its highest peak. This album catapulted her to become the most legendary Salsa singer of all time.
   Johnny Pacheco as lead singer and in percussion, guiro and flute, Celia Cruz majestically interpreted canonical favorite hits, such as “Quimbará,” “Vieja luna,” and “Toro Mata.” “Quimbará” would become her signature hit. Celia was a member of the quintessentially traditional Cuban group, “Sonora Matancera”. Cruz was open to experimentation, but fiercely proud of her tradition. This album was mainly a set of straightforward songs in based on that Cuban sound played with a New York swagger.
   I chose to pair this Cava with “Celia & Johnny” because these were both firsts. Bodegas Via De La Plata was the first to make Cava in the Extremadura section of Spain. Celia Cruz and Johnny Pacheco were the first to blend the Cuban sound with what was happening in NYC and made one of the first “salsa” albums. These two groundbreaking works of art will bring joy and exuberance to your day so buckle up(plus you can work on your Spanish while listening to music in Spanish while drinking a quintessential Spanish wine)!

Music & Wine Column by Eric Benny Bloom

Eric Benny Bloom's Music and WineEric Bloom is a New Orleans based trumpet player for the psychadelic funk band, Lettuce. While Lettuce has been touring the country and the world, Benny has been developing his knowledge and love of natural wines. 




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