Tablao is the Spanish word for a cafe that features flamenco. It also is the name of a lively red blend from Spain's Navarra wine-growing region. The 2012 Tablao from Bodegas Pagos de Aráiz (about $10 at wine-savvy markets) is blended primarily from tempranillo grapes and much smaller percentages of garnacha, merlot and cabernet sauvignon, resulting in a very pleasing structure and velvety mouthfeel.
The top note on the nose of this deep purple wine is fig, tempered by stone fruits, most notably cherry. On the tongue the dominant flavor is fig jam, denoting not sweetness but intensity of flavor. Cherry is there, too, together with clove and cinnamon accents, maybe even a whisper of licorice. The finish is long and satisfying, with a bit of black pepper kicking in at the finale.
The first food that comes to mind for pairing with this lusty red is lamb, whether as good and garlicky lamb chops or in a spicy merguez sausage. It also will harmonize with roast duck and with charcuterie or perhaps a Greek gyro sandwich.
By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel.