Unpolished Grape Series: Albariño


Albariño from Spain and Alvarinho from Portugal are the same grape known by different regional names. It is known for its fresh taste, high acidity and salty flavors. These wines can be quite elegant and are said to taste like the sea. As such, wines in both regions are often paired with seafood!

Known for its freshness and light body, this grape has high acidity and medium alcohol. The flavor profile boasts green and stone fruits, including lemon, lime, pear, red apple, grapefruit, peach, and apricot. It also gives off floral aromas of blossom and honeysuckle. The mineral and saline flavors are notable in many of these wines. Most expressions are not oaked and are meant to be enjoyed young (not aged). Complex versions can also incorporate subtle honey, nut and brioche characteristics, either from brief oak-contact or lees stirring. (Note: dead yeast/lees left over from fermentation impart additional complexity and flavor.)

Albariño Vs. Alvarinho

Most of Spain’s Albariño comes from the Rias Baixas region. Being on the coast, these wines tend to pick up strong salt flavors from the fierce Atlantic Ocean. In fact, this region’s humidity is so prevalent that the grapes have to be trained on a pergola system to protect the berries from rot as they ripen and develop. The wines may be labeled by the variety Albariño or may simply say “Rias Baixas.”

Portugal’s Alvarinho wine is similar to Albariño, except that it has notably riper flavors of stone and tropical fruits. It is mostly grown in Moncão e Melgaco and has a slightly higher ABV due to the higher sugar contents often found with tropical profiles.

Food Pairings

Albariño/Alvarinho is known for its impeccable ocean pairings! Its high acidity and slightly salty flavor compliment an array of seafood, including white fish, grilled halibut, raw oysters, shrimp, crab legs, scallops, caviar, and lobster tail. It also pairs well with flavorful entrees like roasted chicken, savory risotto, feta pastas and even caprese salad.


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