The extent of most people’s Spanish wine knowledge consists of two famous reds: Ribera and Rioja.
While there are many excellent varieties of each, it’s always good to try something different! There are dozens of spectacular lesser-known wines produced just a short distance from San Sebastian. Here are five of our favorite wines to order in San Sebastian so you can truly drink like a local!
Txakoli is the holy grail of wines to order in San Sebastian! This semi-sparkling, dry white wine is native to the Basque Country. In fact, it’s quite difficult to find anywhere else in Spain—or in the world! Luckily, while you’re here in San Sebastian, it’s quite easy to find. The best bars in the city all serve txakoli, making it the perfect way to wash down your tasty pintxos!
Some of the best txakoli hails from the nearby villages of Getaria and Zarautz, where you can take vineyard tours and learn all about how this unique wine gets its start. The coastal climate in these seaside towns is ideal for producing a perfect txakoli: fruity, dry, crisp and refreshing!
2. Rioja Alavesa
We know—we just said that there’s so much more to Spanish wine than Rioja. However, the variety of Rioja known as alavesa is one of the must-try wines to order in San Sebastian. Produced in the southern reaches of the Basque Country, these wines fall under the prestigious D.O. Calificada Rioja label. The main difference, though, lies in geography and the production process.
Because alavesa Riojas have their roots in grapes planted along the foot of the Sierra Toloño mountains, their taste is noticeably different from that of regular Riojas. After they grow, the grapes start the fermentation process while still whole (rather than being crushed and destemmed first, as is common in other Rioja regions). As a result, alavesas boast a fuller body, higher acidity and a soft, fruity flavor.
Often eclipsed by its more popular neighbor, Rioja, the Navarra wine region is quickly making a name for itself in recent years. Winemaking here is an ancient tradition, one that its family-run bodegas continue proudly. Due to its proximity to the Basque Country, these are some of the most unique wines to order in San Sebastian.
In the past, Navarra was best known for its rosé wines. While these are an excellent choice, the region is gaining more recognition for its spectacular reds and whites as well. No matter which you choose, it will make the perfect accompaniment to your pintxos!
Step aside, champagne! Cava, Spain’s contribution to the world of sparkling wine, is less expensive and just as delicious as its more popular French counterpart. It’s also one of the best wines to order in San Sebastian, especially if you’re toasting to a special occasion!
While 95 percent of Spain’s cava comes from Catalonia, there are still a number of other cava regions in the rest of the country. The Basque Country is one of Spain’s foremost producers of cava outside of Catalonia. Order a glass of locally produced bubbly and drink up!
5. Rueda Verdejo
Last but certainly not least on our list of wines to order in San Sebastian, Rueda is a standout among Spanish whites. High quality verdejo grapes mature to perfection in the flat high plains of northern Castilla y León and later become some seriously fabulous wine.
Fresh, fruity, crisp and refreshing, Rueda Verdejo wines are perfect with many different foods (such as shellfish, fresh cheese, salads and more), or on their own as a standalone aperitif. It may not be the most popular Spanish wine, but this hidden gem will quickly become one of your new favorites from the first sip.
Want more wine? Don’t miss our new online experience, Spain Wine 101. Led by certified Spanish wine educator Nika, you’ll discover the history, secrets and unique culture of Spain’s favorite drink as you virtually explore several of the country’s most important wine regions. Cheers!
Life is too short to speak one language and stay in one place. In 2015, this philosophy took her from familiar Ohio to sunny southern Spain. Usually drinking tinto de verano, reading Lorca, or attempting to dance flamenco (not all at once). Follow her blog, Viatic Couture, for more.