Jeffrey Cohen, CMS, Wine Specialist
Albariño wine (“alba-reen-yo”) is a delightfully refreshing coastal white that grows on the Iberian Peninsula. It’s loved for its rich stone fruit flavors, a hint of salinity and zippy acidity.
6 Fun Facts About Albariño
1. On the Wine Day Calendar, August 1st is Albariño Day!
2. Some of the oldest living vines in the world are Albariño vines and are up to 300 years old. (For comparison, the oldest known grapevine in the world is over 400 years old.)
3. It’s common to see the word “Albariño” on Spanish labels, unlike other areas that label by region.
4. Spanish and Portuguese winemakers have always treasured freshness with Albariño and don’t age in oak. Today, however, you can find a few producers making rich oak-aged styles with brioche-like aromas.
5. The grapes are tiny with thick skins. Not only does this make Albariño harder to produce, it also results in a distinct raw almond or citrus pith-like bitterness from the skin’s phenol content.
6. Most Albariño vineyards have a very different look. Vines are trellised above your head on pergolas to help keep grapes dry and rot-free.
In the Val do Salnés region of Rias Baixas, vines are traditionally trained on a wire trellis supported by granite posts called a “parra,” which allow breezes to come through and dry the grapes after the region’s frequent showers.
On the nose, expect aromas of nectarine, lime and grapefruit, with subtle hints of honeysuckle and occasionally beeswax.
On the palate, Albariño wines have a weighty mid-palate and mouth-watering acidity that finishes with salinity and sometimes a subtle bitter note (like green almond or citrus pith).
Most Albariño are drunk young and fresh but due to the high acidity and phenolic structure (from the grape’s thick skins) it has incredible potential for aging.
Through my many decades in the food and beverage arena, I have noticed that during the summer and very warm months, eating and drinking habits get lighter.
During the winter we eat a lot more braised offerings, stews and heavy soups.
In the hot months we tend to eat a lot more chilled items such as shrimp cocktail, oysters, crab and lobster. This wine is dynamite for that. It doesn’t only need to be chilled dishes — with grilled and sauteed fish, it is equally as fantastic. I don’t, however, want to pigeon-hole Albariño as only for seafood. It will be very delicious with chicken and pork as well as a cheeseboard with nuts and marmalades.
I have already mentioned the seafood indulgence, so let’s move on to a couple of Ranch Menu items to pair with:
“Sea of Cortez Jumbo Shrimp” consists of cherry tomatoes, wilted garlic and spinach sauté, roasted gold potatoes and Modena balsamic reduction. To change this up a little bit, try it with grilled salmon.
Lastly, if you haven’t tried the June feature, Summer Bay Scallop Ceviche, this appetizer, served in a Martini Glass, is a perfect harmonious blend of fruit juices, cilantro and sweet peppers. I can’t think of a better pairing for a nice, chilled glass of Albariño.
A new bunch of Alberiño’s will be arriving soon for August 1, Albariño Day.
Have an amazing, memorable summer, and don’t forget to send pictures.
Jeffrey M. Cohen, CMS, is the Wine Specialist/Beverage Manager at The Clubs of Cordillera Ranch. He can be reached at email@example.com and 210.677.9234.