Albariño has always been a star in its native northwest Spain and Portugal (where it's called Alvarinho). But over the last 10 years, it's taken off in popularity here in the US—and for good reason. It's made in a range of styles, from elegant and zingy to rich and creamy. And with entry-level price points ranging from $12 to $13 a bottle (on up to $25+) it's also accessible to everyone. (Lucky first-time Better Homes & Gardens Wine Club members get to enjoy two bottles of a seriously delicious example that hails from a leading estate.)
Albariño's thick skins and naturally vibrant acidity help it thrive in this wet, maritime climate, where it's held reign as Queen of White Wine in Spain for hundreds of years. Neat dinner party fact: In 2005, researchers discovered a parcel of 40 Albariño vines that were planted an estimated 200 to 300 years ago. But Spain and Portugal don't have the monopoly on fabulous Albariño—the grape is also successfully grown and made into wine in California, Washington, Oregon, Uruguay, Australia, and New Zealand.
Albariño is a darling of sommeliers at top restaurants across the country, loved for its crisp and complex nature, extremely aromatic qualities, and remarkable ability to pair well with seafood.
It can range from elegant and light to rich and round, with aromas and flavors of orange and acacia blossom, lemongrass, grapefruit, peach, and sometimes even green apple. Its hallmark, though, is a faint saline tang (one of the reasons it's so darn tasty with everything from oysters to sushi). At home, try it with a variety of seafood dishes, such as Seared Scallops in Garlic Butter; the zippy acidity and lightly creamy complexity of this 2013 varietal from Selección Especial Numerada will accentuate the buttery, tender goodness of the scallops while acting as a mouthwatering foil to the richness of the sauce.
Serving tip: Albariño needs a good chill before serving, but try to avoid making it ice-cold (that will dull the wine's gorgeous aromas). An hour and a half in the fridge should do it. And don't fret if you think it's a bit too cold when it's time to serve—pour the wine out of the cold bottle and into a room-temperature decanter, then serve. It will come to just the right temp in no time.
The beauty of a good Albariño (like the fabulous version featured in the BH&G Wine Club's Refreshing Whites Dozen) is that it also pairs well with poultry. So it's definitely a wine to keep in mind for Turkey Day—for a guest-impressing Spanish twist, make our Paella-Style Stuffing, or check out Our Best Thanksgiving Menus for even more inspiration.
Beyond Thanksgiving, Albariño is an easy wine to pair with timeless chicken recipes (we like lively stews, like Basque Chicken), juicy pork, and other white meats. It's also perfect for classic paella recipes, cheese plates, veggie casseroles, roasted nuts with herbs, and more.
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