As I pulled the sample bottle of Abadia Retuerta Seleccion Especial 2013 from the wine refrigerator, I considered how many delectable foods would complement its elegant flavor profile. The thought was timely because I found myself wondering which of the myriad salads recipe I should create for an upcoming dinner with a group of friends.

taco salad
Moving forward, I opened a favorite cookbook and a frayed card fell to the counter. On it was a recipe for Crunchy Taco Salad, one of my best-loved dishes growing up. I enjoyed bites of this meatless salad for its brilliant crunch factor (well done, Fritos!), savory flavors due to onions, tomatoes, green peppers, black olives, beans, and cheese, and, most importantly, its simplicity to prepare. In graduate school, I was known for contributing this crowd-pleaser at numerous gatherings and when I lived in downtown Chicago, this salad appeared at plenty of parties. Somewhere along the path of life, however, this recipe was lost in the milieu of those that were modern. It was time to resurrect that classic Crunchy Taco Salad. This time around, though, it demanded to be complemented with a wine that was anything but traditional.

As you most likely expect, the perfect pairing was Abadia Retuerta Seleccion Especial 2013, a modern riff on a luscious Tempranillo blend from Spain.

The wine itself is from Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y Leon – Sardon de Duero. The area is part of the D.O. Ribera del Duero, yet Abadia Retuerta doesn’t consider itself part of the more than 200 wineries found there. Instead, it has chosen a more flexible geographical indication, Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y Leon, in order to exercise “more freedom on multiple levels, especially when it comes to choosing grape varieties and percentages included in the final blend”. The winery itself is somewhat new, having produced its first wine in 1966. Now, its reputation is for “balancing the legacy of its surroundings, the monastery and its wines with innovative vineyard and winery practices”. I encourage you to visit their website for detailed information.

In the glass, Abadia Retuerta Seleccion Especial 2013 ($30) was a sophisticated blend of 75% Tempranillo, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Syrah and other red varietals such as Merlot and Petit Verdot. On the nose, aromas of chocolate covered cherries, green tea, blackberries, and tobacco were a mesmerizing entry. My palate discovered notes of red fruit, more tobacco, chocolate, and cherries that were entwined with mouthwatering acidity and velvet-like tannins; the wine was aged for 13 months in French and American oak barrels. Balanced, with a fresh, lingering finish, the wine was a delicious complement to each bite of the Crunchy Taco Salad. Although the Abadia Retuerta Seleccion Especial 2013 is worthy of aging for a few more years, you’ll want to enjoy the bottle right now!

wine and taco salad

Crunchy Taco Salad


  • 1 head lettuce, shredded
  • 1lb cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 can ranch style beans, chilled
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green peppers, diced
  • 1/4 cup black olives, pitted and sliced
  • 3/4 bottles Kraft Catalina dressing
  • 1 small bag of Fritos, crushed


Step 1
Toss all ingredients!

Crunchy Taco Salad

Cheers! ~ Cindy

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