When in shopping in the supermarket in Spain, ever looked at the wine selection and wondered what’s good? Then read our guide to great supermarket white wines in Spain and wonder no longer!
Often when I’m in my local supermarket in Spain, I see tourists trying to work out what to buy from a bewildering range of wines. And whilst Spanish wines such as Rioja, Cava and Sherry are well known outside of Spain, there seems to be less familiarity with Spanish white wines in general (at least of the non-sparkling variety). So having lived here and enjoyed the vino blanco for a long while, I thought it would be useful to do a guide for those less familiar with the range of Spanish white wines available.
Guide to great supermarket white wines in Spain
I’ve specifically tried to include the best of the most widely distributed wines rather than focus on high-end wines. Basically, this is the stuff you can find on the shelves of supermarkets like Carrefour, Alcampo, Lidl, Mercadona, Dia and El Corte Inglés.
As with all great wines, it all starts with a good grape!
Before we get stuck in, a word of caution: some supermarkets (particularly Lidl, Mercadona, Dia etc) also have their own range of wines. And even I haven’t been able to try every wine in the country! So rather than list every single wine in the country, I thought it would help to get a few pointers about the types of grape you can find in Spain. This way, you’ll be able to spot the good stuff by its grape if none of my recommendations (listed further below) are available.
All in all, I reckon there are three main grape varieties that I would suggest you look out for: Verdejo, Albariño and Parellada.
Verdejo: the best are Rueda wines
Verdejo (say ‘Ver-deh-Hoe’) is the grape commonly grown in the Rueda wine region in Valladolid, northwest Spain. And the best Verdejo white wines in Spain are Rueda wines. If you like the Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand, then you will love this sharp, ballsy white wine with a fresh taste to it. Some Verdejo wines even have Sauvignon Blanc blended into them.
Rueda white wines have a Denominación de Origen (DO), which gives them a protected status. That means wines labelled ‘Rueda’ must have at least 50% Verdejo. And wines labelled ‘Rueda Verdejo’ must have a minimum of 85% Verdejo.
They’re consistently good wines and pretty reasonable with a bottle costing under 10,00 EUR.
Albariño: Spain’s best kept secret
In Spain, Albariño is the major grape variety of the Rías Baixas wine region, in Galicia. Galicia itself is famous for its fresh seafood so it’s not surprising that Albariño wines make such a great pairing with fish or shellfish. Like Rueda wines, Rías Baixas has DO status.
Albariño wines aren’t as sharp or zesty as Verdejos. But they are more rounded and rarely acidic. If you’re more familiar with Viognier wines, Albariño is very similar.
Top tip: make sure you pay at least 10,00 EUR for a bottle. There are some not-so-nice, cheaper versions beginning to circulate that aren’t worth the money.
Parellada: dry white wines and Cava!
Most folks have never heard of Parellada. But may well have had some! It’s a grape variety specially grown in Catalonia. And it produces some stonkingly good Cava, which is a Spanish sparkling white wine. Parellada is also used to produce bone dry white wines including what is probably Spain’s most exported white wine: Viña Sol. Cava and Catalan white wines are very dry. They’re a little like Chablis or similar. I love ’em!
What about the wines from Rioja?
Ah, I thought you’d spot that. Rioja is probably Spain’s most famous wine producing region. The grapes predominantly grown here are Tempranillo and the wines predominantly produced here are red. Rioja white wines are largely produced using Viura grapes. And personally, whilst it’s not bad wine, I find it just a bit boring and predictable. But if you disagree, do feel free to get in touch with us and perhaps I’ll give them another go!
You can read more about Rioja reds and winery visits in: La Rioja wineries to visit.
All of my favourite brands, brands, brands
Ok, now you know about the grapes, it’s time to get down and dirty with my brand recommendations. Remember these are the wines I see and purchase regularly in lots of supermarkets in Spain. But if none of these are available, at least you now know the grapes and regions to look out for.
Verdejo: Naia & Protos
Naia is becoming a very fashionable Rueda wine for Spaniards. It’s got lots of lovely flavour but it’s not quite as sharp and zesty as most Rueda wine, which probably means it appeals to more folks too. A bottle will cost you between 6,00 EUR and 10,00 EUR depending where you buy it.
Protos is a very well-distributed wine in Spain. Its red wine from Ribera del Duero is one of Spain’s best selling wines. It only recently branched out into white wines and produced a first class Verdejo. Luckily, you’ll find it in many supermarkets because it generally travels with its red cousin. Bottles range from 8,00 – 12,00 EUR.
Albariño: Martín Códax
I love the Albariño by Martín Códax. It’s fruity and crisp yet never acidic. It also has a gorgeous lemony scent and colour that makes it perfect for quaffing or serving with food. In my humble opinion, it is the only Albariño to drink. Prices are something like 8,00 EUR – 11,00 EUR in a supermarket. I once saw it on a wine list in Vinopolis in London for 30 quid!!
Parellada: Viña Sol & Ermita d’Espiells
Viña Sol is probably Spain’s most successful wine export (apart from the ghastly “Faustino V” to be found in every duty free shop world wide). And whilst it is a mass-market wine, it’s also delicious and goes with everything. I’d be very surprised if you didn’t see this in your local supermarket or indeed on the wine list of any restaurant you visited. This wine is massive in the catering trade in Spain. You can find it from 6,00 EUR – 9,00 EUR a bottle. They also make a Viña Esmeralda which is about 15,00 EUR a bottle and is very good too.
Ermita d’Espiells from Juve y Camps is less available but El Corté Inglés and Carrefour generally carry it. Juve & Camps is one of Spain’s most prestigious cava producers and of course shares the Parellada grape with them. It’s bone dry but not acidic and is very balanced. The wine is paler in colour than Albariño but similarly a good pairing with seafood. It’s fabulous stuff. Bottles are priced between 10,00 EUR – 15,00 EUR.
And for Cava: Codorniu & Freixenet
Codorniu Benjamin and Codorniu Anna
In almost every supermarket in Spain, you’ll find handy little Benjamin bottles of Cava by Codorniu. The 200 ml bottles are a great way to enjoy Cava is you just fancy a glass of bubbly without opening a whole bottle. And at around 6,00 EUR for a pack of three, they’re pretty inexpensive.
If you’re looking for a standard sized bottle, I recommend Codorniu Anna. It’s a lovely mass-market Cave that I personally think beats Freixenet (see below) hands down. A bottle of Codorniu Anna only costs around 10,00 EUR so it won’t break the bank. I like mine with a dash of Cointreau liqueur in it but that’s another story…
Freixenet is Spain’s ‘super brand’ in Cava. They sells a number of varieties. The most popular is the Cordon Negro (look out for its black bottle). In Spain, you’ll also see bottles of Carta Nevada, which is a little sweeter and less dry than the Cordon Negro. They’re both good but I find Freixenet a little acidic so one glass is probably my max.