On the far north Atlantic coast of Spain, in the heart of Basque Country, there's a very unique tradition in the local pintxos bars: a zingy, zesty, slightly fizzy wine gets poured from a glass pitcher high in the air, and the stream of liquid flies in a festive arc, eventually landing in tumblers (or directly into eager mouths!) as the pitcher, called a porron, get passed around the table. The wine that's traditionally poured in this fun, flamboyant way is a local wine called Txakolina (chak-oh-LEE-na), or often called Txakoli (CHA-koh-li), and it's making waves all over the world as wine lovers discover it.
If you haven't come across it yet, that's not a surprise—80 percent of the Txakoli wine produced is consumed locally. The good news is, you don't have to travel all the way to the Basque region to get your hands on a bottle, because there are many wonderful examples of this wine that have started to pop up at wine retailers across the U.S. and you can find Txaolina on an increasing number of restaurant wine lists, too.
All About Txakolina
This bright, refreshing, tangy, slightly effervescent, dry, and very mineral wine is made primarily from local grapes called hondarrabi zuri and hondarrabi beltza. Depending on the producer, you might also see other grapes blended in such as chardonnay, riesling, folle blanche, and petite manseng. Txakolina comes in both white and rosé styles and that's fabulous news for summer sipping as rosé fever starts to rise. There are three subregions that make Txakolina. Bizkaiko, made around the city of Bilbao, is fresh, briny, and zesty; Geteriako comes from area around San Sebastian and is tangy and characteristically a little fizzy; the third and smallest is Arabako, made in the hills surrounding the small inland town of Amurrio.
One thing all Txakoli wines have in common is a fresh and light profile: they are relatively low in alcohol (typically 10-11 percent), which makes them perfectly refreshing for sipping during the summer months. Since they are made on the Atlantic coast (many of the vineyards are located directly on the ocean), it's common to experience a bit of oceanic, salty minerality when tasting the wine. And since it's a cool, wet area, the grapes don't achieve a lot of ripeness, which makes the wine tantalizingly tart.
How to Pair Txakolina
In the Basque country, Txakolina wine is typically enjoyed with seafood. It's a classic with mussels, so a dish with a Spanish accent like Spicy Mussels and Chorizo is a delicious pairing to try. Salty and crispy Pan Fried Anchovies are also traditionally enjoyed with Txakolina, while Piquillo Peppers Stuffed with Shrimp Salad would be right at home at any menu in San Sebastian.
Ones to Try
Ameztoi Getariako Txakolina Rubentis Rosé 2018 is filled with bright tangy strawberry flavors and is delightfully fizzy, it's a classic for a reason. Txakoli Getariako Malda 2018 shows the tart, zesty side of Txakoli; think green melon, Granny Smith apples, lime zest, and fresh herbs with a mineral finish. Bodegas Berroja Berroia Txakoli 2017 is soft and filled with honeysuckle aromas and cantaloupe and grapefruit flavors. And Antxiola Getariako Txakolina 2018 is a wonderful value and a friendly, fruity wine; it's quite effervescent with a fun punch of sourness in the finish.