GETTING TO KNOW ALBARINO--SPAIN'S MOST POPULAR WHITE WINE
While Spain is best known for producing excellent red wines like Rioja, many people are still surprised to learn that Spain also produces a large amount of zippy, refreshing and affordable white wines that are perfect for summer sipping. Modern Spanish white wines are clean and fresh and come in many styles to please most white wine lovers, and I encourage you to experiment with them, many at remarkably affordable prices.
But it is the Albariño that has most captured the attention of American wine consumers, and for many, it is the great Spanish white wine.
Albariño is Spain’s popular, refreshing white wine, produced in the Galicia region in northwestern Spain, just north of Portugal. It is cool and rainy and much different than the hot, almost desert-like Spain we all are familiar with. This area is known as “green Spain” and is rich with lush vegetation, green forests and rivers. It is so wet there, many of the region's vines have to be trellised overhead to avoid mildew.
This is where the Albariño grape really shines, in a wine region known as Rias Baixas (REE-us BUY-shass.) Albariño has been grown in the region since the 12th century, but only started getting worldwide attention and distribution since the 1980s. What’s great about that is that the wine is still remarkably affordable, but with it gaining popularity worldwide, prices are sure to climb.
Albariño is a highly aromatic, crisp and fresh medium-bodied wine that is amazing with a wide variety of foods. The cool, damp weather in the Rias Baixas region ensures that the early ripening grape retains its vibrant acidity and intense aromatics. Classic Albariños will have aromas of white flowers, peaches and lemongrass and flavors of zesty citrus and ripe stone fruits. Great Albariños will have palate-cleansing acidity and an intense vein of minerality that reminds you the ocean isn’t too far away.
Albariño screams for seafood but has the backbone to pair with a wide variety of foods. I’ve had Albariño with spicy paella and it was a match made in heaven!