Look no further for your expert Spanish white wine buying guide - we welcome Rick Fisher from the Wine Scholar Guild, to give us his list of go-to wines for National Wine Day!
With U.S. National Wine Day on the horizon, we turn our attention to white wines from Spain - fast becoming on a par with Spanish reds as classic staples for your cellar. And who better to give us an expert white wine buying guide than Rick Fisher - sommelier, writer and Spanish Wine Scholar Education Director for the Wine Scholar Guild. Chin-chin!
By now, most will have heard of DOC Rioja for reds, but you’ll be surprised to discover the variety and versatility of Spanish white wines available. These wines vary in style, sweetness, aging and grape varietal, not to mention the diverse terroir and climates that influence the wines - from the cooler North Atlantic coastline around Galicia, down to the balmy mountains of Málaga in Andalusia to the south, and even the volcanic moonscape of Lanzarote island! Whether you’re interested in putting together your own Spanish wine tasting, or looking for that perfect pairing for an occasion or meal, Rick Fisher gives us his definitive ‘must-try’ list for white wines.
Warm weather is just around the corner and you should already be stocking up on white wines. While Spain is considered a red wine country, there is an amazing array of white wines produced there. Here are ten Spanish white wines that you need to try this year:
Sparkling - Spain is one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of traditional method sparkling wine. The majority of Cava (Spain’s answer to Champagne) is produced in Cataluña using three local grapes – Macabeo, Xarel·lo, and Parellada. Reach for bubbles from the Cava region or one of the producers of CORPINNAT. Try pairing a glass with potato chips. Really!
Must-try: Cava DO Brut Nature with José Andrés Foods Extra Virgin Olive Oil Chips
Fresh - Txakoli is the perfect summer wine. Hailing from the Basque Country, it is slightly spritzy and incredibly easy to drink – on its own or with light appetizers.
Must-try: Bizkaiko Txakolina DO with canned Bonito del Norte tuna or pickled mussels
Light-bodied - Albariño is the fastest-growing Spanish white grape. This Galician native produces light-bodied wines with refreshing acidity and hints of citrus, stone, and tropical fruits. It is so versatile that you can pair it with seafood, sushi, and even fried chicken!
Must-try: Rías Baixas DO Albariño with Pulpo a la Gallega (Galician octopus with potato)
Dry - One of Spain’s most versatile white grapes is Godello. It originates in Galicia, with its key region being the Ribeira Sacra DO, and it produces light and fresh wines but can also produce age-worthy wines. Think Chardonnay and White Burgundy. Try a godello wine with meaty seafood, such as scallops or a roast chicken dinner.
Must-try: Ribeira Sacra DO Godello with vieiras a la plancha (grilled scallops)
Full-bodied - In addition to producing some of Spain’s best aged red wines, Rioja also produces superb white wines, many of which can age for decades. Long-aged whites are generally made from Viura and aged in neutral barrels for years. These elegant wines will elevate any meal, and especially an elaborate dish such as a fish stew or paella.
Must-try: Rioja DOC Viura with mixed paella
Orange - Orange wines represent one of the world’s historic white wine styles. In Spain, the best ones come from Cataluña. Here they are known as “brisats” and can be found in Penedès DO (made mostly from Xarel·lo) or Terra Alta DO (made from Garnacha Blanca). Orange wines work well with lightly spiced cuisine and fermented flavors, also DOP Manchego cheese.
Must-try: Terra Alta Garnacha Blanca DO with spicy sardines
Sweet - Naturally sweet wines have been made in Spain for almost 3,000 years. Sierras de Málaga DOP, located in Andalucía, is home to the country’s most historic sweet wines. Try pairing with a local Málaga goat’s milk cheese or the famed Cabrales cheese from Asturias.
Must-try:Sierras de Málaga DOP Moscatel de Alejandría with Quesos y Besos goat cheese
Off-the-Grid - The wines of the Canary Islands are gaining in popularity around the world. On the island of Lanzarote, the volcanic landscape is reminiscent of the surface of the moon and the wines, made from the local Malvasía Volcánica grape varietal, are spectacular! This wine is a great accompaniment with fish and seafood, but also fresh cheeses and even desserts.
Must-try: Lanzarote DO Malvasía Volcánica with Flor de Guía cheese from Canary Islands
Sherry - While sherry is a fortified wine, it is produced from a white grape, Palomino Fino. This neutral grape gives producers the ability to create a wide variety of wine styles, from bone dry to unctuously sweet. Try a Fino or Manzanilla with some olives and almonds or an Amontillado with your main course.
Must-try: Manzanilla de Sanlúcar DO with salted almonds and olives
Everyday - While all of the above wines can be enjoyed every day, Verdejo is an easy-drinking wine reminiscent of Sauvignon Blanc that should not be missed. They are mainly produced in the region of Rueda and are great on their own or with a nice cured cheese platter.
Must-try: Rueda Verdejo DO with cured Spanish cheese platter.
Thanks Rick, time to get wine shopping and discover our favorite Spanish whites for National Wine Day…