Wine Basics / Grape Varieties

Albariño: The Ultimate Grape Guide


Wine Basics Wine Basics

Guide to albariño/alvarinho

What does it taste like?

Sea spray

Where is it grown?

Spain | Portugal (alvarinho)

What style of white wine is albariño?

This vibrant Spanish/Portuguese grape variety is characterised by a uniquely palate-tingling, light-bodied freshness. Imagine an invigorating sea breeze blowing through an orchard on a scorching summer day: fresh, fruity and aromatic, with a bracing hint of salinity. It’s the natural partner of ceviche, sushi and Friday fish and chips.

The grape is bi-regional, (albarinho being Spanish, alvarinho being Portuguese) so we’ll use the term albariño from here on out to avoid confusion.

Albariño grapes
Albariño grapes.

Where should I start with albariño?

Spain: Albariño is a thick-skinned grape variety which means it can thrive in damp, high-altitude vineyards by the sea – in Spain that means the Galician region of Rías Baixas - without succumbing to mould or rot unlike some other more delicate varieties. The higher altitude means a cooler climate, stopping the grape from over-ripening in the heat and giving the fresh, bright acidity and gives the grape its characteristic mouthwatering character, combined with white florals and succulent, ripe orchard fruit.

Portugal: In Portugal alvarinho usually makes up part of the blend for Vinho Verde, the country’s much-loved, slightly spritzy and peachy white wine. You’ll also find single-varietal alvarinho which thrives in the coolish maritime climate, and bursts with Atlantic freshness.

However, albarinho isn’t just confined to bright and breezy styles. You can find richer, more textural examples which have been aged on their lees (natural yeasts leftover from ageing) or given some time in oak for more texture, complexity and a touch of creaminess.

How do I pronounce albariño?

How do I pronounce alvarinho?

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