Published in The A - Z of Drinks

Assyrtiko – svelte white-grape variety of Greece making mineral-rich wines such as those of Gaia, Hatzidakis, Sigalas, on Santorini; in Thrace with Biblia Chora and on Halkidiki with Tsantalis. All a good bet to help you wash down the meze platter.

Published in The A - Z of Drinks

Arneis – upwardly mobile white-grape variety of Piedmont in northern Italy, enjoying a new silky, peachy, dinner-party-food-friendly lease of life after nearly becoming a footnote. Arneis has two eponymous DOCs in the Langhe and Roero areas.

Published in The A - Z of Drinks

Aligoté – unobtrusive white-grape variety that would be much better known and regarded if it were not thought of as the Cinderella grape of Burgundy, perpetually in the shadow of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. It has its own appellation (and its own base in the village of Bouzeron) and makes appetising wines with good acidity; best sipped on their own on golden summer evenings. It’s the wine the French mix with a little Crème de Cassis to make Kir.

Published in The A - Z of Drinks

Albariño/Alvarinho – graceful white-grape variety of north-western Spain and northern Portugal, where it makes enigmatic, aromatic wines that have a Viognier-esque perfume about them with perhaps some smoky, oily Alsace Pinot Gris thrown in for good measure. Before the late 1990s Albariño seldom made it out of the lush green, fjord-scape of Galicia’s Rias Baixas (try ‘ree-ash by-shas’) appellation, where all Spanish stereotypes are redundant: them Gallegos are Celts, right down to the kilts and the bagpipes, and Celts everywhere would feel at home in the Galician rain – all 60 annual average inches of it, which requires everything to be kept off the damp ground including the vines that are trained up tall granite posts. Traditionally a highly prized – but moderately priced – local secret, the cat is now well and truly out of the bag and arguably Spain’s best white wine is ubiquitous. It is also being planted in the USA, where its popularity has surged rapidly. Preferably drunk young, on its own or with some pre-dinner salted almonds in order not to miss the subtlety, but most nonetheless have enough body to partner fish and mariscos (and enough acidity to hold their own should such things arrive in a dairy-based sauce).


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