Looking to branch out from the same old Sauv Blanc and Chardonnay? Then grab your glass and join me as we uncork the world of Spanish white wines.
Now, I know what you might be thinking: “Spanish wines? Isn’t that all about reds and Rioja?” Ah, my vino-loving friend, think again!
From the lively Albariños of Rías Baixas to the zesty Verdejos of Rueda, Spain has a white wine scene that you don’t want to miss.
They’re perfect for lounging on a sunny terrace, indulging in a seafood feast, or simply celebrating the fact that you made it through another Monday.
Find out which ones to try based on your palate. Plus, I’ve got food pairings and pro tips for finding these fantastic white wines of Spain.
BTW, if you haven’t yet, make sure to grab my free Wine Tasting Planner. It has 20+ wine night theme ideas, including the exact ones I’ve used for my wine tastings. Plus, a timeline, food pairings, games, free printables, worksheets, and more. Get your copy here.
Try This If You Like: Chenin Blanc
Region: Rías Baixas
Food Pairings: Raw fish, shellfish, soft cheeses, green herbs
This popular Spanish white wine hails from Galicia in Northwestern Spain. It dominates the Rías Baixas region with more than 90% of vine plantings.
Albariño’s thick skins are like its secret weapon against the damp and humid coastal climate. They help the grapes resist pesky mildew and rot. And to give the grapes some airflow, many growers train the vines up high on pergolas.
When you take a sip of this lively wine, get ready for a zesty kick of citrus fruits like lemon and grapefruit. These are joined by juicy stone fruit like nectarine and apricot.
Most Albariño wines are made au naturel, without the interference of oak. These light-bodied beauties let their ripe fruit flavors shine through. But you may stumble upon a richer style with a touch of oak.
Fun Fact: If you find yourself in Portugal, keep an eye out for Alvarinho. Same grape, different name.
Try This If You Like: Sauvignon Blanc
Food Pairings: Chicken, fried fish, green veggies, salads, fresh cheese
Found almost exclusively in Rueda, Verdejo is a hidden gem. This region is nestled close to the Duero River in the north-central part of Spain. And Verdejo grapes thrive in its continental climate.
The secret? Cool summer nights and a clever trick: harvesting the grapes at night to avoid unwanted oxidation.
Thanks to sandy soils, some old vines have survived the phylloxera epidemic, offering wines with extra concentration and depth.
Sometimes, Verdejo likes to mingle with Sauvignon Blanc and Viura. But these blends always contain at least 50% Verdejo.
In your glass, get ready for a light-bodied stunner bursting with zesty citrus notes. Sip on the tangy trio of lime, lemon, and grapefruit, with hints of green flavors like fennel and grass playing along. Some producers are embracing oak, giving the wines a richer and creamier texture.
Verdejo is a white wine that can age. With time, it develops nutty flavors that add another layer of deliciousness.
Pro Tip: Keep an eye out for high-shoulder Bordeaux-style bottles for the unoaked version. And low-shoulder Burgundy bottles usually mean it’s an oaked style.
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Try This If You Like: Chardonnay
Region: Rioja, Penedès
Food Pairings: Roasted chicken or pork, grilled fish, paella
Listen up Chardonnay lovers. This grape’s for you!
Viura is the most important grape in White Rioja (aka Rioja Blanco). Here, you’ll find it blended with varieties like Garnacha Blanca, Malvasia, and Chardonnay itself.
This dry white wine will typically have medium acidity, with juicy melon, lime, and herbal notes. You may even get a hint of hazelnut.
Traditionally in Rioja, Viura is aged in American oak barrels. These wines are classified as:
- Crianza – 18 months aging, with 6 months in oak
- Reserva – 24 months aging, with 6 months in oak
- Gran Reserva – 48 months aging, with 6 months in oak
Depending on the age, the wine will have deeper, golden hues and more intense flavors of nuts and lemon curd.
But lately, this traditional style has fallen out of favor with wine drinkers. So fresher, unoaked styles are becoming more common.
Fun Fact: Viura is one of the primary grapes used for Cava sparkling wine. But in the Penedès wine region, it’s known as Macabeo.
Try This If You Like: Chardonnay
Regions: Navarra, Rioja, Priorat
Food Pairings: Spiced lamb or pork, garlic chicken, nutty cheeses
This white grape is a mutation of its red counterpart, Garnacha Tinta. It originated in Northern Spain and can now be found in regions like Navarra, Rioja, and Priorat.
Garnacha Blanca makes a full-bodied, intense wine. And it packs a powerful punch, with alcohol levels reaching as high as 15%.
Green fruit flavors like pear and green apple mix with lively citrus zest. And you may get floral aromas such as honeysuckle.
To add an extra layer of complexity, Garnacha Blanca is often aged in oak. This results in a wine that’s beautifully rich, with delightful brioche and biscuit notes alongside creamy lemon curd flavors.
Pro Tip: In France, keep an eye out for it under the name Grenache Blanc. It makes appearances in the Languedoc-Roussillon, Rhône Valley, and Provence regions.
Try This If You Like: Chablis
Regions: Valdeorras, Monterrei, Bierzo
Food Pairings: Fatty fish, meatier seafood, creamy cheese
If you’re a fan of Chablis, this is your new obsession!
This rare wine (pronounced “go-DAY-oh”) is mainly found in the region of Valdeorras in Northwest Spain. Vineyards cling to slate soils that are a recipe for making these aromatic wines. It’s also found in the regions of Monterrei and Bierzo.
Godello grapes love to play an early game, budding and ripening ahead of the pack. Their low yields mean incredible flavors packed into every sip.
Godello’s full body is brimming with lively acidity. You’ll find vibrant flavors of fresh apple, zesty lemon, tangy grapefruit, and a touch of minerality.
Like Chablis, most are fermented in stainless steel, making them light, tart, and bursting with fruity goodness. But you will find a French-oak-aged style that’s more like a Grand Cru Chablis. These are creamy, rich, and wrapped in notes of vanilla and delightful baking spices.
Fun Fact: Godello was almost extinct a few decades ago. But it’s been revived and is gaining popularity.
Try This If You Like: Vinho Verde
Region: Basque Country
Food Pairing: Raw fish, salads, soft cheeses
Txakoli (pronounced “cha-ko-lee”) is found in Northern Spain’s Basque Country. The primary grape used is Hondarrabi Zuri. And it creates a unique white wine that’s nothing short of delightful.
When you pour yourself a glass of Txakoli, get ready for a slight spritz and sky-high acidity. This, combined with its light body and low alcohol, gives it a vibrant and refreshing character.
Citrus flavors like zesty lime, crisp apple, and a sprinkle of dried herbs hit your palate. And some versions might surprise you with a slightly salty quality.
Txakoli is produced in three subregions:
- Getariako Txakolina – the largest area that often has a rounder texture from lees contact
- Bizkaiko Txakolina – known for the most mineral-driven styles
- Arabako Txakolina – the smallest of the three and overlaps with Rioja
Fun Fact: Txakoli is traditionally served by pouring it into the glass from several feet up. This is called “breaking” and it’s thought to open up the wine so you can fully experience its vivid aromas and flavors.
Try This If You Like: Pinot Grigio
Region: La Mancha, Valdepeñas
Food Pairings: Simple seafood, lemon chicken, light pasta dishes
Meet Airén, the most widely planted grape you’ve never heard of. That’s right. It’s the number one most-planted grape variety in Spain!
Historically, it’s been used as a blending grape for Brandy de Jerez. Or made into simple table wines. But some innovative producers are now crafting higher quality versions from old bush vines.
These are found in Central Spain’s La Mancha region. Airén is one of the few grapes that can withstand the scorching heat and dryness of this central plateau (aka Messeta Central).
Expect a lighter-bodied wine with subtle acidity. You’ll find flavors of golden apple, grapefruit, and hints of tropical fruits like pineapple and banana. And the better-quality versions will have delicate floral notes, like rose.
Fun Fact: Because of its low acidity, Airén is sometimes blended with Viura or Verdejo, adding that extra zest to the glass.
Try This If You Like: Champagne
Food Pairings: Rice dishes, fried foods, cream sauces, green veggies
Spain’s sparkling wine is perfect if you have Champagne taste but beer money. Made in the traditional method, it undergoes secondary fermentation in the bottle, just like Champagne. But there are some differences!
Almost all Cava is produced in the Penedès region in Northeastern Spain. The warmer climate means lower acidity compared to its French cousin.
Another thing that sets Cava apart is the use of indigenous Spanish grapes. Macabeo (aka Viura) adds elegance. The Xarel·lo grape brings body and structure. And Parellada offers freshness.
The minimum aging requirement is 9 months vs. Champer’s 15. So, you won’t get as much of those toasty and biscuity aromas.
But you can find some premium versions that are aged for much longer, with Reserva requiring at least 18 months, and Gran Reserva 30 months.
Pro Tip: To find the best quality, look for Paraje Calificado on the label. These require 36 months of aging and extra requirements like older vines, yield restrictions, and hand harvesting.
Did you know, Cava is also made in a rosé style? Learn all about different types of rosé wine here.
Try This If You Like: Cava
Food Pairings: Shellfish, butter sauces, mushrooms, aged cheeses
If you’re already a fan of Cava, then you need to try Corpinnat.
This Spanish sparkler came about when a group of Cava producers felt the DO had become all about mass production. And with Cava production allowed in regions outside of Penedès, it was missing a sense of place.
So, in 2015, they broke away and formed the Corpinnat brand. This meant committing to stricter rules to create wines that better express their unique sense of place, including:
- At least 75% of the grapes must come from the producers’ own vineyards.
- Native grape varieties take the spotlight, showcasing the authentic flavors of the region.
- Grapes must be organically farmed and harvested by hand
- And the minimum aging requirement is 18 months, allowing these wines to develop more complexity and character.
Corpinnat wines beautifully balance bright acidity with intricate layers of flavor. Each sip is a delightful revelation, showing the passion and dedication of the producers. And the best part? You’ll get great value for your money.
Fun Fact: Corpinnat is a made up word that’s a combo of two Spanish words. It means “heart of Penedès.”
Try This If You Like: Fortified Wines
Food Pairings: Salty snacks, charcuterie, and sushi for dry styles; ice cream, dark chocolate, and mature cheeses for sweet styles
Sherry is commonly misunderstood as a sweet wine. Don’t get me wrong, there are sweet styles. But unlike Portugal’s port wine, most of it is dry and makes for a fantastic food wine.
Jerez de la Frontera in Southern Spain is the heart of sherry production. It’s a hot, sunny climate, only slightly cooled by winds coming off the Atlantic Ocean.
Now, let’s talk about the grapes. Palomino takes the lead. Neutral and high-yielding, it’s perfect for taking on sherry’s flavors. Pedro Ximénez adds a luscious sweetness, while Muscat of Alexandria makes its mark in small amounts.
Wines are initially fermented in stainless steel tanks and fortified with a 95% ABV neutral spirit. These go into what’s known as a Solera system, with levels of barrels holding wines of different ages. Portions of the wine are blended down the levels over time to ensure a consistent final product.
Sherry comes in a range of styles, depending on the grapes used and aging techniques. From citrusy and nutty Fino and Manzanilla to leathery and spicy Oloroso and Amontillado, there are plenty of dry options to choose from.
Or if you’re looking for something sweet, go for the nectar-like Pedro Ximénez with its toffee, dried fruits, and coffee flavors.
Fun Fact: Biologically aged sherry forms a layer of yeast called “Flor.” This protects the wine from exposure to oxygen. And it produces acetaldehyde, which gives sherries like Fino and Manzanilla their unique flavors.
Spanish White Wines to Try
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Have you had any of these Spanish white wines? Which one is your favorite?