The Best Albariños to Drink Right Now | Wine Enthusiast
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The Best Albariños to Drink Right Now

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If refreshing, high-acid whites are generally what you reach for (looking at you, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling lovers), then Albariño promises to be right up your alley. Native to the Iberian Peninsula, this crisp and zesty wine pairs beautifully with a variety of dishes, yet remains light-on-its feet enough to enjoy without a full meal on deck.

Curious to learn a bit more about the grape? After much tasting and deliberation, our team has put together a list of our favorite Albariños to drink now, as well as enlisted the help of industry experts to explain all you need to know about this lively, energetic variety.

What Is Albariño?

Albariño is a white grape variety native to and most commonly grown in northwest Spain (Galicia, specifically), as well as the northwestern Portuguese regions of Monção and Melgaço, where it goes by the name Alvarinho.

It is frequently vinified as a monovarietal wine, though sometimes blended with the white grape Loureiro in inexpensive styles, which are often fruity and crisp. Structurally, Albariño is characterized by high levels of natural acidity and thick skins, which allow it to grow well in humid, maritime-influenced regions.

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What Does Albariño Wine Taste Like?

Albariño wine is dry, with notes of citrus (specifically lemon, lime and grapefruit), honeysuckle, orange zest and a bit of saltiness on the palate. It offers crisp acidity, as well as its lean structure, and citrusy, salty-driven minerality.

“Albariño wine is usually crisp and bright, with notes of yellow apple, lemon, orange, mango and really refreshing acidity on the palate,” says Chris Gaither, master sommelier and wine director at Ungrafted SF and GluGlu in San Francisco. Albariño styles may vary from producer to producer—some may err on the citrusy and herbaceous side, whereas others may be more floral and tropical.

“The thing that makes Albariño really fun to drink is that there is a nice juxtaposition of the floral and tropical aromatics versus the tart, racy acidity on the palate,” Gaither adds.

Which Foods Pair Best with Albariño?

The high levels of acidity and fruit-forward nature of Albariño wines make it an excellent pairing with a variety of fresh foods, from herbaceous green salads to salty fish-based dishes, seafood towers and more. Tinned fish, oysters, simply-prepared shellfish, milder white fish, the Galician octopus dish pulpo a la gallega and similar offerings all pair well.

In addition to seafood, the wines’ acidity and texture also pair beautifully with Vietnamese and Thai dishes, as well as a variety of soft cheeses.

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How Should One Serve Albariño?

Max Working, portfolio manager for Spain, Portugal and Greece for Skurnik Wines, explains that Albariño is best enjoyed chilled but not too cold, and generally either as an apéritif or (ideally) with something from the sea.

Travis Padilla, the New York City-based sommelier at The Wine & Hip Hop Show and Il Buco, agrees. He believes it’s best enjoyed chilled, with good company, on a hot day. “It has the ability to transport you to the Spanish Coastline with its briny, citrus qualities—a literal vacation in a glass,” he says.

Gaither is a bit more specific in his temperature preferences, serving Albariño somewhere around the 46-degree Fahrenheit mark. This allows the wines’ freshness and citrus flavors to shine. “Pop open a bottle at a table full of food and friends to get them hooked, and also get the party going,” he says. “And don’t forget to invite me!”

Best Spanish

Forjas del Salnés 2021 Goliardo A Telleira Albariño (Rías Baixas)

Light yellow to the eye, this wine offers a bouquet of nectarine, Valencia orange and freesia. It is round on the palate, with Granny Smith apple, yuzu, vanilla and honeysuckle flavors and a closing note of saline. Editor’s Choice. 94 Points  — Mike DeSimone

$ Varies Wine-Searcher

Granbazán 2020 Limousin Albariño Albariño (Rías Baixas)

Medium straw-colored to the eye, this wine has a nose of green pear, white chocolate and crumbled sage. Flavors of pineapple, passion fruit, vanilla and jasmine skate into a floral-infused finish. 93 Points  M.D.

$ Varies Wine-Searcher

Paco & Lola 2019 Prime Albariño Albariño (Rías Baixas)

yellow in the glass, this wine has aromas of peach, honeydew melon and butterscotch. It offers a sense of fullness on the palate, alongside full-on acidity and mango, pineapple, passion fruit, dried Mediterranean herb and toasted almond flavors. There is a refreshing splash of grapefruit on the finish. 93 Points  — M.D.


Best Portuguese

Anselmo Mendes 2020 Parcela Unica Alvarinho (Vinho Verde)

This single vineyard wine is concentrated and full of dense white fruits. It is a powerful wine. It hints of citrus balanced with a mineral texture and a vivid aftertaste. Drink now. 93 Points  — Roger Voss

$ Varies Wine-Searcher

Anselmo Mendes 2022 Alvarinho Contacto Alvarinho (Vinho Verde)

Skin contact has given this rich wine its density. It is a full wine, hinting at spice and minerality. The wine’s ripeness shows some aging potential. Drink this great wine from 2024. 93 Points  — R.V.

$19 Gary’s Wine & Marketplace

Valados de Melgaço 2021 Alvarinho Reserva Alvarinho (Vinho Verde)

Ripe and creamy, the wine is dense and full-bodied. The wine’s rich character is amplified by the spice and apple with hints of yellow fruits. The wine is ready to drink. 90 Points  — R.V.

$21 305 Wines

Best American

Vara 2021 Albariño (Edna Valley)

Made in New Mexico from Edna Valley fruit by Central Coast stars Bob and Louisa Lindquist, this bottling offers green and grassy aromas of lime peel, grass and kiwi on the nose. The palate is elegantly layered in apricot, nectarine and citrus pith flavors, with acidity and tannins in a fine balance. 92 Points  — Matt Kettmann

$ Varies Wine-Searcher

Stephen Ross 2022 Spanish Springs Vineyard Albariño

Extremely fresh aromas of lime sorbet, lemon soda, light peach and wet stone draw the nose into this single-vineyard expression from just behind Pismo Beach. The palate is refreshing in acidity and vibrant with nectarine, gardenia and citrus zest flavors. 92 Points  — M.K.

$ Varies Wine-Searcher

La Barge 2021 Albariño (Sta. Rita Hills)

This is probably still the only Albariño in this appellation. Aromas of squeezed lemon, orange and peach kick off the nose. The palate represents a serious style of white wine, offering a grippy texture and buzzing acidity, as flavors of almond and Meyer lemon linger long on the finish. 92 Points  — M.K.

$ Varies Wine-Searcher

Peloton 2021 Slipstream Albariño

Clean and crisp melon, rounded white peach and creamy nut aromas make for a lively entry to the nose of this bottling. The palate showcases a taut texture, with apricot and orange rind flavors afloat on vibrant acidity. 92 Points  — M.K.

$37 Peloton Wines


Is Albariño Sweet or Dry?

Although most Albariño wines are very fruit forward on the palate, almost all Albariño wines are vinified dry, meaning that there is little to no residual sugar in the final wines.

Where Is Albariño From?

Working explains that while there is some debate on where Albariño finds its origins, most sources believe that the variety is native to the Iberian Peninsula.

“Some people would say it originates from the part of the Iberian peninsula that is now northern Portugal, but most people accept that it’s probably from Galicia’s Rías Baixas [region] in Spain, specifically the Salnés Valley,” he says.

Is Albariño Similar to Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio or Riesling?

Padilla finds that Albariño is indeed similar to Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio and Riesling, in that all of the above varieties share one very important thing in common: bracing acidity, which renders them crisp, citrusy and refreshing on the palate.

“The other commonality is that each grape can showcase regional nuances and show terroir-driven differences,” he says. “This is why, although similar, they will feel unique each time you decide to drink them.”

Working agrees that Albariño is in the “same general ballpark” as all three of these varieties, though he finds it most similar to Riesling—”as opposed to say, Chardonnay, for example,” he clarifies. Saxby agrees, denoting that Albariño is most similar to dry expressions of Riesling, as well as Sauvignon Blancs produced outside of New Zealand.

“Albariño has a lot of charm, and if you like any of those grapes, chances are that you may enjoy Albariño,” says Gaither, stating that Albariño offers similar aromatics to those found in Sauvignon Blanc (tart citrus, herbs) and Riesling (white flowers, citrus). “It can also resemble Pinot Grigio in the sense that it may have some lees-derived aromatics of sourdough bread and beer yeast,” he adds. Gaither finds that wine consumers who enjoy drinking Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling or Pinot Grigio can “easily expand their wine drinking” by including Albariño in the mix.

What Does Albariño Mean in Spanish?

The word Albariño technically comes from the word for “white” in the local Galician dialect.

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