While sipping your favorite wine, you might start thinking you know everything there is to know about it. Well, what if that is not the case? Take the Albarino wine as an example. If you aren’t familiar with this type of wine, then today sounds like a good day to learn something new!
The Origin Of The Albarino Wine
Wine is one of the top exports from Spain’s agriculture and food sectors. It’s no surprise given how 75% of vineyards in the country export their products. Perhaps one of the most popular wine exports is the Albarino wine. What’s this wine about? And what makes it special?
Albarino wine is made from a grape variety of the same name, originating from the coastal Galician region of the Iberian Peninsula. Most Albarino wines in the market hail from the Rías Baixas wine region. There are five subregions under Rias Baixas, namely the following:
- Condado do Tea
- O Rosal
- Ribeira do Ulla
- Val do Salnés
The subregions where the Albarino wine comes from are usually found on the label.
If you hear people talking about white wines from Spain, there’s a high chance they are referring to the Albarino. But of course, there are some Albarino wines grown and produced in the neighboring country of Portugal, specially in the Vinho Verde subregions.
The wine’s name is spelled as Alvarinho there. Over the years, Albarino wines have also been made in New World wine countries such as the United States, New Zealand, Uruguay, Chile, and Argentina.
The Albarino wine is not just something that came out of the blue. It has been around for ages. There are conflicting stories regarding the origin of the Albarino. People have always been told that pilgrimaging French monks from Cluny brought the grape to the region around the 12th century.
However, researchers beg to differ. The Albarino grapes weren’t carried over by anyone. They are native to the Spanish region of Galicia! Albarino wines have been produced since ancient times, particularly in the Roman era! There might be more studies to be done to determine the exact origin of the grape.
Regardless of where or how the Albarino grapes came to be, there is no doubt that wines produced from this grape variety are well-loved and received. The consumption and export of Albarino wines continue to increase year after year.
Before The Wine: Cultivation Of The Albarino Grape
The Albarino grapes thrive in cool climates. The Rías Baixas region usually has this kind of condition. The proximity of the region to the Atlantic Ocean might be a contributing factor.
However, the places where Albarino grapes are planted also experience rain and high humidity levels. These affect the growth of the grapes, causing diseases like botrytis. When this happens, it might lead to the grapes drying up or developing lesions.
Winter is the best time to plant Albarino grapes. Pruning is an essential step in the growing process. Diligent pruning allows the vines room to grow more grapes.
If you go to a vineyard that grows Albarino grapes, you might notice how these tiny but thick-skinned fruits are perched on a seven foot trellis or pergola. The vines’ roots are firmly planted in granite-rich soil.
They are grown this way because it helps with fighting humidity. The air surrounding the grapes can circulate easier and better. The vines of the Albarino wines are known for their longevity. Some vines have been around for hundreds of years.
Turning The Albarino Grape Into Wine
Maceration is the first step in the production of Albarino wines. This involves pressing the grapes smoothly and gently. They are then left in barrels or stainless tanks for a couple of days to macerate. The temperature is usually around 39 F (3.89 C).
Most Albarino wine producers use native yeast to ferment the wine. Wild yeasts enhance the Albarino wine’s profile. Depending on the type of wine they make, some producers let their wines go through malolactic fermentation.
The next process involves further building up and strengthening the profile of the Albarino wine. The wine will make contact with yeast particles left from the fermentation (lees), improving its flavor and scent.
Albarino wines are then left to age up to five to seven years. However, the great thing about this wine is that you have options on whether to get young or old ones.
Albarino Flavor Profile And Characteristics
Every type of wine has its own distinct flavor profile and attributes. If you happen to come across an Albarino wine, you will see just how different it is. This is the iconic white wine of Spain we are talking about!
Appearance And Aroma
Once you open a bottle of Albarino wine and pour it into a glass, you will see a beautiful, crisp yellow color. Some would even describe it as a light or pale straw color. You might even see a hint of green or gold hue in some Albarino wines.
There’s a brightness and liveliness to this type of wine. Once you have tasted it, you will realize that this wine is full of flavors. And despite it being flavorsome, you are not losing the authentic flavors of the grapes.
Your sense of smell will pick up floral and fruity aromas if it’s your first time smelling Albarino wine. Think of something citrusy like lime and nectarine. Those with a very active olfactory sense would probably smell the granite mineral from the soil where the grapes are planted.
Body And Taste
If you are going to analyze the flavor profile of the Albarino wine, you will be amazed at what you can find out.
When you drink Albarino wine and swirl it around your mouth, it’s not as heavy as other wines out there. In terms of body, the Albarino wine falls somewhere between light and medium.
Since this wine feels smooth and fresh when you drink it, you can appreciate its fruitiness. You get lemon, lime, and grapefruit. Aged Albarino wines will also have a taste of apricot and peach.
If you like dry wines, Albarino should be on your list. There is little to no sugar content. The alcohol level probably falls between 11.5% to 12.5%. It’s also a highly acidic wine. Apart from the citrus and stone fruits, there’s also a hint of salinity to the wine. It’s probably from the ocean nearby.
Best Way To Serve Albarino
One of the best ways to enjoy Albarino wine is when it’s young. However, Albarino wine that has gone through the aging process works fine as well. It’s all your preference.
If you want to maximize the richness and complexity of this Spanish wine, you should start by handling the wine properly.
There is no need to decant an Albarino wine. If you want to taste the wine in all of its glory, pour it into a very cold white wine glass. If you don’t have that, don’t worry about it. Drinking the Albarino wine at a much higher temperature has its pros too! You will be able to taste the more intense acidic fruit flavors.
Swirl your white wine glass and take the intense aroma of the Albarino wine. And once you have taken a small sip of the wine, swish it around your mouth. Doing this will help you get a feel of what the Albarino wine has in store for you.
Perfect Pairing With Albarino
When delectable food is paired with the perfect wine, it feels like heaven. Consider the Albarino wine the next time you indulge in your favorite gastronomic treats.
Fruits Of The Sea
Since the Albarino wine’s origin is near the sea, it only makes sense to pair it with seafood! The acidic and citric nature of this wine go well with fish and shellfish!
Try pairing it with one of Spain’s favorite dishes, the seafood paella! That would be one great food pairing! And also, try drinking this wine the next time you are having fish tacos!
You can never go wrong with cheese and wine. And in the case of Albarino wines, they pair up well with soft cheeses. Many people love eating Burrata cheese. Its rich and delicate flavor compliments the wine. You can also try the wine with semi-hard cheeses. Try it with the following:
- Cream Cheese
Light Meat Dishes
If seafood is not your thing at the moment, you can opt for lean, white meat such as chicken. If you have a light and delicate meat dish for lunch or dinner, the Albarino wine is a choice. Anything that has a light sauce works well too!
All Is Alright With The Albarino Wine
It’s no wonder that Albarino wine has been growing and doing well. This fresh and light wine works with almost anything! Whether for aperitif or dinner, there’s a high-quality Albarino wine you can count on! If you get lucky, you can even score award-winning Albarino wine for yourself!