One of my fondest memories of graduate school is hanging out at Spain, a super old-school restaurant on W 13th Street where about five bucks gets you a glass of the house red, plus plates of tapas, like greasy meatballs and potato chips, served by grumpy old Spanish men in suspenders. It was charming, and I didn’t care what kind of juice I was drinking back then – but the good news is that it’s now possible to enjoy updated, sophisticated Spanish cuisine alongside elegant, easy-drinking wines that don’t destroy your mouth with tannins.
Forget the oaky, jammy stuff that for too long defined Spanish wine; there’s a whole generation of small-scale producers in Spain who are making lower-alcohol, less oaky wines, often with unusual and indigenous varieties and unexpected flavors. Now, New York City has its first restaurant featuring an array of these wines, the new East Village spot xYz. Check out my write-up of the resto and Alvaro de la Viña’s game-changing wine list, over at Gothamist. (For more on the new wave of Spanish natural wines, see my piece for Saveur from a few months ago.)