Galician Wine and Aguardiente

Galician cuisine isn’t just food. The drinking, particularly the wine is as important. Even the water of which Galicia has over twenty different bottled brands, wins awards worldwide. On our daily rides, we will pass by many natural water springs, where we can replenish bidones with crystal clear ice-cold mountain water. Perhaps on the very hot days, cool down in it as well.

Origin of Albariño Wine 

Wine, like shellfish, is a big business in Galicia, with many wineries (bodegas) scattered throughout the region. The biggest concentrations are found close to our base in the Rias Baixas region, and slightly further north in the Salnés . These two coastal regions produce almost exclusively white wine using the albariño grape. Albariño has its origins in 13th century Germany, brought by monks from the Rhine valley, as pilgrims to Santiago. Their vines were planted in the coastal regions of Galicia, hence the name Albariño, from the Spanish pronunciation of Rhine. This type of wine is popular in Galicia, as it’s crisp fruity taste is the perfect accompaniment to fish dishes.

Red Wine In Galicia- Ribera Sacra

The Rias Baixas region, concentrated along the Miño valley, close to our Tui base, produces Spain’s best white wine. Like much in Galicia, you will arrive not having experienced it, and leave having fallen in love with it. For those lovers of red wine, do not despair, it isn´t all white wine here. Further inland in the region of Ribera Sacra (sacred river), very good wines are produced using the Mencía grape. Many of the vineyards are on the slopes of the spectacular valley of the River Sil. They produce some great red wines, that tend to be lower in alcohol, averaging around 13%. Thus, many say that they are like the Pinot Noirs of France. Do not leave Galicia without having tried one of these reds. Many of the bodegas are small, and their harvest taken up within their local market, so not much is exported.

The Story of Aguardiente

A by product of the wine making is the amount of aguardiente that is available in Galicia. Wine growers produce these liqueurs commercially. However, more common in Galicia, are the home-made varieties. Almost every family seems to produce their own brand, and all claim their’s to be the best in Galicia. It is made by fermenting the by products of the wine pressing. The skins, the pips, the lot!  A high alcohol content liquid is produced over a few days. Natural flavourings and sugar are then added. The most popular varieties in Galicia is coffee, the famous liquor-café. Very popular now are individual fruit  varieties. These types of drinks are usually taken as a post-meal digestif, and in a restaurant are generally complimentary. They are delicious, but be aware, they are very strong.