Grape Profile


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It Doesn’t Mind Getting Wet

Known as Albariño in Spain, and Alvarinho in Portugal, this white grape variety feels at home in the damper, cooler areas of north west Iberia.

In Spain’s North West coastal state of Galicia, this thick-skinned, mildly aromatic variety dominates the massively under-rated Rias Baixas wine region producing light, aromatic, and high-quality white wines. Elsewhere in Iberia, Vinho Verde wines are an exquisite Portuguese wine.


Most of these wines show off their refreshing acidity with citrus flavours of lemon, lime, or grapefruit. Other fruit flavours will range from fresh green fruit to apricots and peaches, often with a lifting floral note of apple blossom.The proximity of the vineyards to the ocean lead to salty and often flinty flavours.

Aged examples can lead to cashew nut flavour and a very textural mouthfeel. Lees ageing – a technique that is becoming more and more popular among winemakers and consumers – adds roundness to be palate and lovely yeasty complexity to the flavour profile.

Style Range

The high acidity, and high flavour concentration means winemakers have lots of options.There are oaked styles to add flavour, lees-aged styles to add texture, and fresh styles that only ever see the inside of a stainless-steel vat. The resulting wines are often very good for cellar ageing.


The grape’s thick skin guards itself against the abrasive wet coastal weather, but also help to develop high acidity, and full flavour compounds.

The alcohol ranges from about 12-13% in Rias Baixas, down to around 10-11% in Vinho Verde.

Lees aged examples can add an extra level of minerality and structure, which the high acidity carries beautifully.

Food Pairings

Given its affinity to coastal regions the wines naturally lend themselves to seafood pairing. There are few finer food and wine pairings than freshly caught and grilled sardines and a chilled glass of Albariño. Overall, however, any kind of seafood or shellfish dishes work nicely, and you can play around with oakier styles with different cooking techniques.

Growing Regions

SPAIN – Rias Baixas
Spain’s Atlantic north west wine region of Rias Baixas is more Lake District than Costa Del Sol, with rain-laden clouds and whippy ocean breezes. The lush, green, hilly landscape allows clean rich and ripe flavours of peach and apricot. Its high acidity and salinity from the ocean breezes make it a fantastic lunchtime or early afternoon tipple.

PORTUGAL – Vinho Verde
Known here by the Portuguese name of Alvarinho, this was one of the first grapes in Portugal whose wines carried the name of the grape on the label, making it one of the best-known white varieties in the country.  Mostly grown around the town of Monção in Portugal’s north western wine paradise of Vinho Verde, it is often blended with Loureiro and Trajadura.

Alvarinho is also grown in the red-wine-dominant regions of Dão and Lisboa, although not to any great extent.These warmer regions offer up wines with more mango and pineapple flavours.

Albariño is also found in various cool climate regions across the world, including California, Oregon, Australia, Uruguay and notably in Nelson at the top of New Zealand’s South Island.

Wanderlust’s Albariño selection

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