Two Fantastic Spanish Wine Regions: Ribera del Duero & Albariño
If you want to ensure a decent glass of wine in almost any bar in Spain, you can’t really go wrong with a red vino tinto from the Ribera del Duero region. Likewise, for white wine or vino blanco, an albariño varietal from the north of Spain is a good bet.
What is a Ribera del Duero?
To clarify, Ribera del Duero is a wine producing region in the Casile and Leon autonomous community, it is not a specific wine nor a type of grape. Common grapes used in the area are the tempranillo, grenache, cabernet sauvignon, and merlot. Often the wines produced in this region are a blend of different grapes. The Ribera del Duero region is characterized by its low rainfall and extreme climate conditions— extremely hot summers and bitterly cold winters. The combination makes for some wonderful wines, the most famous perhaps from the Bodegas Vega Sicilia.
What is an Albariño?
An Albariño on the other hand is a white wine grape variety grown in the Rías Baixas wine producing region of Galicia in northwestern Spain, as well as in parts of Portugal (where it is known as Alvarinho). It is usually not blended, and produces one of Spain’s best white wines.
Although each Spanish bar often offers various wine options, here is what you can usually expect when asking for “Una Ribera Por Favor” or “Un Albariño Por Favor”:
Ribera: Usually when you ask for “un Ribera” you are asking for a tinto fino (tempranillo) grape, and often it’ll be a blend with other grape varieties. Characteristics include its ruby red color, full body, with hints of berries, vanilla, tobacco, plum, oak and leather. It pairs well with roasted and grilled meats, mushrooms and manchego cheese.
Albariño: A wine made with albariño grapes is usually pale white, dry to medium bodied, with fruity hints of apricot, peach, or apple. It is light and crisp, sweet smelling but often a bit tart. It is best served young and very cold. It pairs well with grilled vegetables, white fish and shellfish, creamy cheeses such as goat cheese or brie, and light chicken dishes.
So next time you are in Spain (or at your favorite tapas bar back home) try one of these wines to pair with some delicious Spanish food. Let us know what you think!