Friday, January 22, 2021

Mexican Ham Soup and Spanish Rioja Wine #WorldWineTravel

We are kicking off the New Year with a new group that is exploring wines around the world.  We are starting off by exploring the wines of Spain.  This group is the brainchild of Jeff of Food Wine Click.  You can learn more about it in his invitation post.

Spanish Rioja Wine

This year we are exploring Spain.  We will be talking about the wines, the food, the country.  We are starting in Rioja........

Rioja is located in Northern Spain.  It is an automonous province renowned in the wine industry.  It also has farmland filled with wheat and barley.  Their main livestock is sheep.  It is mountainous with rivers running through it.  

Mexican Ham Soup

The foods of Rioja include lamb, cod, white beans, peppers and artichokes.  I didn't use any of these.  Instead I served my bottle of La Rioja Alta Vina Alberdi Reserva Tinto 2015 with a Mexican Ham and Bean soup that I made using my leftover Christmas Ham.

I purchased this wine from for this event.  I paid $25 for this wine and I get free shipping as a member.  The winetaster notes are what prompted me to purchase this bottle. This is what the winemaker had to say........

The 2015 is La Rioja Alta Vina Alberdi Reserva Tinto is a lively, medium depth, garnet–red color with an intense pink rim. High aromatic intensity with dominating ripe fruit: raspberries, red cherries, wild strawberries, and red currants set out against a balsamic background of vanilla, toasted caramel, biscuits, coffee, and sweet mints. In the mouth, you can enjoy good acidity, great freshness and balance, and mild, friendly tannins. Aromatic harmony persists through the aftertaste, with notes of red fruit jam, prunes, coffee, vanilla, and caramel.

 Viña Alberdi is characterized by a notable food-pairing versatility. It is an ideal companion to appetizers, snacks, and barbecues, perfect with rice, pasta, and stews, and great with lightly-grilled meat and fish.

Mexican Ham Soup and Spanish Rioja Wine

This soup was absolutely delicious.  It was like chili made with ham instead of beef or fresh pork.  It is going to be made here quite often, using ham steaks when I don't have leftover ham.  

Mexican Ham Soup and Spanish Rioja Wine pin thoughts about the pairing. I have had some very nice Rioja wines.  I talked about one in this post where I paired BBQ Ribs with LAN Rioja

I opened this bottle of Vina Alberdi and took a sip.  I went back and looked at the winetasters notes.  Not a word about wood in that description.  I took another sip......strong, strong woody flavor.  I like a little wood.  One of the wines that caught my attention and started this love affair I have was a bottle of Oaky Chardonnay from Kendall Jackson some 25+ years ago. 

But I have never had a wine with quite as much woody flavor as this Rioja....I found it off putting.  I was disappointed that I had such a deliciously amazing soup and that the wood in this wine just overwhelmed it.

I still drank the wine and my husbands share of the wine as well, since after about half a glass he poured the rest into my glass.  I waited to finish my wine after dinner, switching to water with the soup.

So while I will not be ordering up this wine anytime soon, I have not given up on Riojas at all.  In fact, I can't wait to read what the others opened for this event and to talk with them about it tomorrow at 11 AM ET on twitter chat following #WorldWineTravel.  

Here are the wines they will be sharing........
And here is the recipe for this amazing soup that you are sure to enjoy...maybe with one of these other bottle of Rioja or, if not, pop open a Cerveza.

Soup, Ham, Beans, Mexican, Entrees
Entrees, Soup, Beans, Ham
Yield: 8 servings
Author: Wendy Klik
Mexican Ham and Bean Soup

Mexican Ham and Bean Soup

A different take on bean soup this version combines ham and beans with Mexican flavors for a fun version of chili.......
Prep time: 15 MinCook time: 3 Hourinactive time: 8 HourTotal time: 11 H & 15 M


  • 1/2 lb. dried Yellow Indian Woman Beans
  • 1/2 lb. dried navy beans
  • 8 c. chicken stock
  • 1 lg, Vidalia onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 c. leftover ham or chopped cooked ham
  • 1 T. chili powder
  • 2 t. cumin
  • 2 t. dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 (15 oz) cans diced tomatoes
  • shredded Mexican cheese and sour cream for garnish, if desired


  1. Wash and sort beans.  Cover with water reaching 2" above the beans.  Let set overnight.  
  2. Drain the beans and place into a large dutch oven.  Add the broth, onions, ham, chili powder, cumin, oregano, bay leaf, and garlic.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, partially cover and simmer for about 2 hours until beans are tender.
  3. Add the tomatoes with their juices and water if the stock has reduced too greatly.  Stir in the tomatoes and simmer for another hour.  
  4. Discard bay leaf and serve, passing shredded Mexican Cheese and Sour Cream, if desired.


Adapted from a recipe found at Mexican Recipes.



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  1. I'm not aware that Rioja normally has so much woody flavor -- we drink it often. Maybe you were just unlucky.

    be safe... mae at

    1. Yes....I'm not sure either. I have never had that wood in a Rioja before, it was very harsh.

  2. Yum! That soup sounds so good! Seems like it would be a really nice, cozy dish for this time of the year.

    1. It was Andrea. Writing this post made me hungry for it again.

  3. I don't recall if I ever made chili before using ham. Although I do like getting creative with leftovers as you do. It sounds like a great idea, and am happy you paved the way so we can all enjoy. I will be trying this one soon!

    1. I still have ham left in the freezer and writing up this post got me hungry for this again. I hope you enjoy it Sue.

  4. Looks delicious ! I hope Frank is doing better.

    1. We are taking it a day at a time Cathy. So far so good. Thanks.

  5. We are unabashed fans of Rioja and have enjoyed many wines from the region...that description of "woody" particularly to the point of off putting is not something we've ever associated Rioja wines with. We'd be curious for you to try something else to compare so that you don't give up on the region. Either way, that soup sounds incredible!

    1. Yes, I have had other Riojas and have enjoyed them. I'm not sure why this particular wine was so off didn't really taste like it was corked but it certainly didn't live up to it's description.

  6. I'm sad that this wine didn't live up to it's expectations. I suppose that could be a vintage thing, a winery thing, or even perhaps the impact of shipping. I often wonder when I receive a shipped wine if everyone on the path from there to here took care with the wine. Regardless I am glad that you are not giving up on Rioja (in my head is a little MJ singing "one bad apple don't spoil the whole bunch girl!) Here's to more Rioja!

    1. Nor does one bad grape spoil the entire bottle. Thanks Robin for the chuckle.

  7. I usually love that wine and don't usually think of it as super oaky, although I do often think it needs some air to taste at its best, or perhaps maybe it was an off bottle for some reason. I'm so sorry that you're experience of it wasn't good. I actually think that the way that wine usually tastes to me would've made a spot on pairing with your delicious looking soup. (we actually did something similar with leftover holiday ham around here and you've started me craving it all over again.) Cheers!

  8. Thanks Nicole. That seems to be the consensus. I'm going to try it again to see if I have a different opinion the second go round.

  9. Oh that's a bummer about the wine, perhaps an off bottle. I wonder if aerating it a bunch would have made any difference? But the soup was a winner!

    1. Perhaps....or maybe it was just me...the last few weeks everything in my life has been a bit off.

  10. Love your soup recipe - perfect for this time of year. Sorry the bottle wasn't pleasant; always disappointing when that happens.

  11. Your soup sounds tasty and comforting, especially during this anxiety-provoking winter. Wish your experience with the wine had been better.

  12. As I mentioned during our chat, this wine hold a special memory for me. I'm sorry it didn't work for you, but that happens. Cheers!


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