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Wine Blog


December smells like firewood and a fireplace; it smells like family, getting together, celebrating, and tastes like traditional cuisine. Each region’s traditional dishes—a must-have on the table—remind us of home and take us back to childhood. Those dishes that make us feel at peace. December is indeed the Christmas month.

The streets of La Rioja are filled with lights, nativity scenes, chestnuts… Spreading a feeling of lasting celebration throughout December. Days off mainly intended for everyone to be with their people. As we say in Santa María Briones, “Reconnect, Meet again.”

So, as Spain is the land of fine dining, we are internationally renowned for our gastronomy’s richness and probably one of the few countries in the world where we extend the after-lunches until dusk and discuss food while eating; sure, this is us! For these reasons, we want to focus this article on the Christmas dishes that are never missing at the Rioja tables during these dates, which you can taste during your visit around this time.

Foto Lisa Praster

No doubt, the thistle with almonds is the most traditional Christmas dish in La Rioja. Although it presents more options, this one is the star of Christmas—a delicacy that can only be enjoyed during winter since thistle is a seasonal winter vegetable. Its growth and use date back to ancient Rome, when it was stirred into the wealthy classes’ dishes. In La Rioja, thistle with almonds is served with an almond and pine nut bechamel base, whose texture and flavor balance the thistle’s hint of bitterness.

Fish and seafood soup, a traditional dish eaten throughout the winter because it is hot and tastes great. It is never missing in many homes at Christmas Eve dinner or Christmas lunch. Anglerfish, sea bass, or conger eel are some of the most favored fish to prepare, along with some good shrimp, clams, and squid. A set of ingredients that, prepared with onions, carrots, garlic, and parsley from the Riojan garden, lifts anyone’s spirit.
With this broth, anyone secures that the party takes place harmoniously and in tune amidst parents-in-law and in-laws. Certainly, another traditional great pleasure of the Riojan character is enjoying a good conversation and an after-lunch in the best company.

Given that we enjoy fine food in Spain, the appetizer will be followed by a good main course—lamb and young goat roasts are the most in-demand on these dates. The vine shoot cookout is a tradition and a heritage of all Riojans. Separate and distinguishable from other places’ own grills and barbecues, it boasts the distinctive feature that the embers are created by lighting the thin shoots obtained after pruning the vine. The Sierra de Cameros clearly offers excellent lambs and young goats from its pastures. Suckling pigs are also highly successful during these days. A type of wood-fired oven preparation that results in crunchy on the outside and tender inside bites.

Roast sea bream, uncommon in other autonomous regions, also finds its place in many homes. This fish is especially appreciated in La Rioja since its presence has given rise to recipes that are part of many homes’ and restaurants’ tastes and olfactory memories. Riojan-style cod, a dish deeply rooted in our culture, is another option for those who opt for a seafood recipe.

The sweet touch will be brought by the traditional Soto marzipan or the almond, walnut, pistachio, pine nut, or yolk artisan nougats. La Rioja nougats are made with traditional recipes, top-quality products, and the most precious ingredient—the time and patience of the artisans who will let the pasta rest long enough before garnishing it.

No doubt, if there is something that all homes have in common and will not be missing from any of La Rioja’s tables, it is an excellent selection of local wines. The culture of wine is this community’s undeniable root and essence. 100 kilometers of vine growth and nearly 1,000 kilometers of their own Designation of Origin certainly go a long way.

In Santa María Briones, we gather an excellent selection of wines from La Rioja in our winery, with particular reference to the Briones cellars wines.

On December 25, if one and all of you want to be able to enjoy an excellent meal in an intimate and warm atmosphere, the doors of our Allegar restaurant will remain open to welcome all those who wish to join the celebration in our boutique hotel. There are years when the whole family absolutely deserves a break and to enjoy without having to spend hours in the kitchen or in charge of the arrangements.

On New Year’s Eve, we have a special menu available here.

In Santa María Briones as passionate about La Rioja, we promote the incredible value of our community in the field of wine tourism, gastronomic and cultural impulamondo a responsible and respectful tourism with the richness and diversity of our land;

For more information and reservations:
+ 34 941 991 599.



Meet again