It will come as no surprise to wine buffs that Galicia is home to several enjoyable vine varieties. Across this green corner of north-western Spain there are five main denominations of wine: Monterrei, Rías Baixas, Ribeira Sacra, Ribeiro and Valdeorras. Although not as internationally renowned as the Rioja or Ribera del Duero regions per se, Galicia is nevertheless experiencing a renaissance in its wine industry, thanks in part to the soaring popularity of the Albariño wines from the Rías Baixas region.
Grown just south of the beautiful historic city of Santiago de Compostela, the Albariño is the region’s most famous white wine. Fruity and light, it is a match made in heaven for seafood, which is lucky as this is what Galicia also excels in. However, another well-known wine that is popular throughout Spain is Ribeiro. Traditionally served in small ceramic bowls (tazas), it is noted for its fruity and flowery aromas, making it a firm favourite among those with a nose for wine.
On the other hand, you will no doubt stumble across Galician Aguardiente (firewater), which is made from the residue of grape skins, seeds and stalks. From this formidable drink Galicians add sugar, ground coffee, cinnamon and bits of lemon peel into a clay pot, which is then heated to make queimada. Served in small ceramic cups, drink this with caution as it’s typically between 37 and 45 per cent proof.
The great thing about Galicia is that it is easy to find these traditional tipples in the region’s watering holes, often at very competitive prices and still served from barrels. And should you be a wine connoisseur, you’re always welcome to visit the wineries (bodegas) and make a day of exploring all the varieties they have to offer.
So next time you’re in Galicia, have a look for some of these vinos finos (fine wines) and if you are feeling brave, have a taza or two of queimada digestive!