This is your holiday pairing companion.

It’s Rías Baixas Albariño.


We’re all in a dish-pairing frenzy as the big holidays approach. Good counsel has arrived: One of my favorite wine educators, Lyn Farmer, sat down with to us to discuss a most perfect holiday pairing companion - Rías Baixas Albariño.

We talked about a bunch of potential pairings, but don’t hesitate to try one of your own. Rías Baixas Albariño is a low-risk pairing wine for a number of reasons.  It’s high in acid, and lower in alcohol. It won’t interfere with the dish at hand.

Located in Northwestern Spain (right above Portugal), Rías Baixas is home to five rivers. They all empty into the Atlantic Ocean. This moderates temperatures and brings a good deal of breeze over the Albariño grapes. The resulting wines have an undercurrent of salinity. They are acidic, crisp, and aromatic. And while no two bottles of Rías Baixas Albariño are the same, you can count on a number of classic flavors: white peach, floral, citrus, with just a kiss of almond and hazelnut notes.

You can watch the virtual tasting event here. Read on for some key learnings.
Lyn and I tasted five different Rías Baixas Albariño wines, spinning a few pairing ideas for each one. The wines are widely available – you can get the five that we tasted right here on Snooth. Rías Baixas Albariño is a sommelier favorite, so there’s a chance some of your guests have seen it on a menu – and already love it. What’s more, the wines can age for a few years. If you don’t get through all of your bottles this season, open them next year - or five years from now - and they will be fresh. That’s the magic of a high acid wine.

Bodegas As Laxas Sensum NV (Sparkling Albariño)

We don’t see sparkling Albariño every day, but I hope this will change. It’s made in the classic method, but tastes nothing like Champagne. That’s a good thing. It should be experienced as its own entity. It’s perfect for that opening holiday toast and pass-around appetizers. Lyn suggests canapes and coconut shrimp. I’m a fan of this Spanish Olives and Cream Cheese Canapes recipe.

Pazo Pondal Albariño 2016

We had fun playing around with some first course ideas here. Soup is the perfect starter – something with a little bit of cream, like this Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup with Almonds. Lyn had a genius suggestion with a soup hailing from the region itself. It’s called Caldo Gallego. The white beans, potatoes, smoked ham, and greens give you lots of creamy notes – without any actual cream. Richer soups will amplify the fresh citrus and lychee notes in the wine.

Santiago Ruiz Albariño 2017

Seventy-six percent of the grapes in this bottle are Albariño. The rest are a blend of local grapes, vinified separately and blended with careful attention to detail. The wine is thus aromatically complex – delivering a “greenness” that is the perfect foil for caramelized vegetables, like carrots and parsnips. If you’re ready for the main event, turkey doused in gravy isn’t a bad idea, either.

Altos de Torona Rosal 2017

It’s dessert time. Cheese plates all around! Lyn mentions the Spanish favorite Membrillo, or quince paste.  It contains just three ingredients: quince, sugar, and lemon, cooked into a reddish paste. The naturally high pectin content gives the paste its firm and jelly like texture, perfect for a Manchego cheese. I also like this recipe for Poached Pears with Quince Paste in Parmesan Cloaks. You can play off the nutty notes in this wine with some Hazelnut Almond Crescents – or just serve nuts as they are, in their shells, with enough nutcrackers to go around the table.

Rectoral do Umia S.A.U. Marqués de Frías 2017

It’s the day after! Time to recover – or is it? There’s no shame in pairing your Thanksgiving leftovers with Rías Baixas Albariño, but hot breakfast or brunch is another option. Lyn points to Eggs Benedict as a great choice, and I couldn’t agree more. It could be time for some seafood, too. This Seared-Salmon with Avocado Shrimp and Mango Salsa will do the trick.

Watch the full tasting here. Buy the wines here. Happy pairing!

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