Have you ever stopped to wonder why we gift boxes of melt-in-your-mouth pears wrapped in gold foil each holiday season? They’re a summer fruit, yet no one ever responds with an incredulous, “Hey, I don’t eat fruit in winter!”
The finest, simplest pleasures defy season. What do you want to drink with your pear once you peel back the foil? You’d never reach for a red; you want a glass of white wine. And you’re one lucky snowbird if you can fill a glass with an Albariño from Rías Baixas.
White wines don’t cease to exist when the majority of your friends blow the dust off their merlots and tempranillos that day in mid-November when they fluff their down jackets. Of course, they’re just thinking of comfort food pairings, like fatty red meats or rich pasta dishes.
But how winter leisure takes on new dimensions once a white graces the table, whether that be alongside your dish of caramelized pears or as a counterbalance to the local cheese platter you’re offering guests.
And heartier foods? It’s the crisp acidity and underlying minerality that makes pairing an Albariño with a holiday turkey or ham a given. Albariño is defined by its DO: Rías Baixas. Many wine lovers are tempted to call Albariño “summer in a bottle,” but that only goes as far as saying the same of your golden pear.
The name Rías Baixas means “lower rias” in Galician, a language spoken in Northwestern Spain where fjord-like estuaries forge through mineral-rich alluvial soil, mixing fresh and briny waters. One of the original Celtic tribes, the Galician people are fair-haired, blue-eyed, and their land is emerald green. It’s a cool, Atlantic clime and the growing season resembles the Loire Valley, New Zealand and the Rhine — regions as known for their white wines as Rías Baixas.
The play of the firelight through crystal filled with white wine, will warm you as much as any red ever might — it’s the warmth and excitement of a new experience, new love, and endless possibilities of the season. So get more out of your white wine in every season, and pour a glass of Rías Baixas Albariño.
Anne Kniggendorf is a Midwest-based writer who regularly contributes to the Kansas City Star. Her work has also appeared in the Smithsonian, the Saturday Evening Post, and several book review journals.