Fun fact: some of these grapes nearly went extinct.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that if you’ve had a Spanish red wine, you’ve had a Tempranillo. Bold, savory, yet fruity, this is a wine varietal that ticks all the boxes in what many of us look for in great red wine.
But sticking to your usual Tempranillo can mean missing out on the rest of what Spain has to offer — and many of these can only be found in the Iberian Peninsula!
Here are the uniquely Spanish wines to give your next wine and tapas night a twist:
If you’re the type who loves a good Pinot Noir, then you need to try Mencia, the superstar grape of the Bierzo region in northwestern Spain. But this grape wasn’t always the region’s most popular: there was a time it was almost wiped out by pests.
Today, the wine is making a comeback with its deliciously complex earthiness and its floral and red fruit flavors. A great example of this would be the Ponte da Boga Mencia, which bursts with cherry fruit, tobacco leaf, and white pepper. Definitely a wine you could have with Manchego cheese and paella!
Enjoy a chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc? Then the Rueda region’s Verdejo is the hidden gem for you. Just like many people’s favorite white, this mouthwatering light-bodied wine has a bright acidity and flavors of lime, grapefruit, and grass—but that’s where the resemblance ends.
Unlike most white wines, this is one that actually has more potential to get better with age, gaining a creamier texture and nuttier notes. You can taste the difference yourself by getting two bottles, drinking one this year, and then letting the other age. For this, we’d recommend the Viña Albali Organic Verdejo, which pairs well with carbonara, cheesy baked mussels, and creamy chicken salad.
Many people would also liken Albariño to Sauvignon Blanc, but that would be a disservice to this white wine’s complexity. Grown along the Atlantic coast in Galicia, this is a wine that takes after where it’s grown.
Aside from its bright citrus notes, it has a subtle but distinct minerality that reminds many people of the beach. As you can imagine, a bottle of this (the Ponte da Boga Albariño is recommended) matches fresh seafood dishes. If you want to pair it with your charcuteries, though, it sings with creamy cheeses like Brie and Camembert.
If you ever find yourself holding a bottle of Godello (pronounced god-EY-o), know that you have a miracle in your hands. Only found in Northwestern Spain, the grape behind this white wine nearly went extinct as recently as the 1970s. This time, pests aren’t the only culprit; there was a complete lack of interest in planting it after General Franco’s rise to power.
It’s since had a resurgence due to the passionate winemakers of Galicia, who’ve made it possible for more people to get a taste of its beautiful citrus and almond flavors. The Ponte da Boga Godello is a good example of that, and one that would go well with your favorite seafood tapas, as well as most dishes served up with a good garlic aioli.
These wines are available at Winery.ph, which has over 2,000 different bottles in its extensive collection. All of the wines featured in this story will be part of Winery.ph’s 11.11 sale alongside crowd-pleasing bottles from Portugal, South Africa, Australia, and California, going at discounts up to 54 percent off. For more information, visit Winery.ph.