Tapas Review: Cien Vinos (100 Wines)

Cienvinos1_1Taberna Cien Vinos
C/ Nuncio 17, Madrid

Metro: La Latina

Tapas- What are they and how do you get
A topic I hope to cover in depth in future articles for Mad about
Madrid. For the
most part, a tourist in
Madrid is faced with a crap shoot as far as what tapas to expect when
ordering a glass of wine. One bar may put down a plate of stale potato chips,
while the place next door sets you up with a mini feast. How to know what is
coming takes time and patience but we hope that with a little guidance from us it
will become a bit easier. One thing is for sure, you can always order tapas,
and if you know where to go, you can be treated to something exciting and new.

This brings me to Cien Vinos or, in English, 100
. Located in the La Latina area of
Madrid, where all
the tapas fiends know to go, Cien Vinos is a small, cozy den of gastronomic
decadence. It’s a bit hard to find; and if it were not for the bronze plaque
outside the front door, you might mistake it for someone’s apartment building. This
all changes as you step inside where you are greeted by warm lighting,
literally hundreds of wines, and a friendly atmosphere. What makes this place
so neat is the way they set up the menu and wine list. Two black boards list the food and wine
available for the night. On average, they have 8 pinchos and 8 raciones to
choose from. Pinchos being a small bite made for one person, while raciones tend
to be a larger portion made to share with a group or as a meal for one. On the
wine board on an average night you should run into about 7 reds, 2 whites, 1
sherry, 1 rose, 3 sweet (dessert wines), and one cava, all priced between
1.75-3 euros.

Feel free to choose a table or just stand
at the bar and order. When it’s busy, the tables tend to be reserved for
raciones only, but if you find a few tables still free you might be able to
talk them into letting you ordering a few pinchos instead. I prefer getting
several pinchos and splitting it with a friend, as it makes a fun way to
explore all the various flavors they offer.

On a recent visit with my wife, we had just
this experience and tasted 3 different pinchos and 4 different wines.
To start we tried a Brandada de Bacalao. Generously heaped atop a toasted round
of bread was a mousse of Bacalao (salt cod) whipped with heavy cream and mild
spice. While this might have used a bit more seasoning, the sweetness of the
cream blended well with the rich meat and the texture contrasted nicely with
the toasted bread.

Moving on we tried what was called, Ravioli
de Cordero Especiaso. Both my wife and I found this to be our favorite. Layered
from bottom to top on a thin layer of crème freche sat a crisp fried wonton
wrapper, thin al dente Asian noodles, and a ravioli-like packet of cumin-spiced
whose wrapper was an innovative use of thin sliced eggplant. Licking the
plate clean took on a whole new dimension as I tried to extract every last drop
of flavor before moving on. While the crème fresh acted as a mediator to the
richness that rested above it, the crispness of the noodles and wonton
contrasted well with the rich softness of the lamb and eggplant. My mind danced
trying to decipher the delicate cumin that laced through the rich lamb while
the wrapper of eggplant helped to moisten every bite. Truly a small piece of art
and a tasty one too.

Al-Andalus came next, a plate with 2
spirals of crepe wrapping themselves around a slightly piquant goat cheese and tomato
. Each piece served atop a round of cracker, these were served hot with
cheese oozing out as you bit in. Dusted across the top was a light sprinkle of cinnamon
whose slight earthy spiciness helped to balance out the sweet richness of the
tomato and cheese. Once again we found ourselves licking our plates clean and
longing for more.

So what about the
wine? It is called 100 wines after all. Being a sucker for Sherry, I opted for
the Lustau, Papirosa. The wine showed pale gold in color with a salt air nose
and delicate melon aromas playing throughout. Searingly dry with a salty finish,
the sweet melon of the nose saved it from being too austere as you finished. Fun wine for a warm day in the sun. 90pts*

I followed this by a Cigales Docetañidos
. Light brick-red with a perfumey strawberry nose and light bitter-orange
finish, this wine reminded me some of the crisp rosés of
Tavel, France.

Having a large collection of wines by the
bottle too, it is worth noting that Cien Vinos do take care to serve all
bottles purchased with the proper glassware. Though make sure to check out
their wine by the glass which is fortunately served in decent glassware, making
it always worthwhile to stop in for a glass.

Always a good time make sure you stop by
and tell them, Mad about
Madrid sent you.

Till soon, Ryan

Ryan Opaz currently lives in Madrid with his wife.
He is available for hire as a food and wine consultant, and maintains/writes www.catavino.net

Rating Scale based on Robert Parker’s of the
Wine Advocate

While the ratings and tasting notes are the opinion of Ryan Opaz

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