Wine Time

Wine of the Week: An Albariño That Really Delivered

Some people tend to drink more red wine than white during winter. At our house, we tend to drink more white than red -- year round.

And it's not because we have an issue with red wine. In fact, some of our best friends are red wines. On Saturday nights at home, when I might treat myself to a black-and-blue rib-eye steak or a Brooklyn-cut porterhouse pork chop, you'll surely find me reaching for Loire Valley Cabernet Franc, Nebbiolo from Piedmont, Tuscan Sangiovese, or Carignane from California.

But most nights, when salads, steamed and roast vegetables, wilted and sautéed leafy greens, pasta al pomodoro, or quesadillas with (our favorite) Herdez salsas dominate the dinner table, we crave fresh, bright wines, with -- yup, you guessed if you've been following along here at Wine Time -- zinging acidity and low-riding alcohol.

While most of the Albariño that finds its way to Texas underwhelms me with cloying candied notes (the result, no doubt, of cultured "designer" yeasts), the Do Ferreiro Albariño delivered the goods: Its confident minerality (think sea salt) was kept in check by delicate floral aromas and gentle citrus and white fruit flavors. And its 12 percent alcohol content (yes! let me just shout it again, YES!) is exactly what I'm looking for when my wife Tracie P and I sit down for dinner. The traditional pairing for a wine like this is small-plate seafood, but I can't think of a better wine to go with my anchovy-raw egg-Parmigiano Reggiano Caesar salad or the pasta and homemade tomato sauce that we prepare roughly three times a week (onion, garlic, and flat-leaf parsley when I make it; just garlic when Tracie P makes it).

"The majority of Spain is coastline," said grape-grower and winemaker Gerardo Mendez when he came to Texas a few weeks ago, dispelling the myth that Spanish wine is defined solely in terms of the southern European nation's rich and often highly alcoholic reds (the fruit of the warm Mediterranean climate). According to the Wiki "list of countries by length of coastline," Spain ranks twenty-sixth in the "coast/area ratio" index. The cool sea breeze that runs through the Rías Baixas ("maritime influence" in wine geek speak) cools the grapes as they ripen during summer, allowing them to mature more slowly and achieve desired acidity levels without the excessive sugar content (that would result in high alcohol content). "That's why we're able to create these wines, with such freshness, minerality, and balanced alcohol," he said, preaching to the choir.

A sermon for my soul and poetry on my palate.

You can find Gerardo's Albariño at Central Market for less than $30.

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Jeremy Parzen writes about wine for the Houston Press. A wine trade marketing consultant by day, he is also an adjunct professor at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Piedmont, Italy. He spends his free time writing and recording music with his daughters and wife in Houston.
Contact: Jeremy Parzen