One of the best aspects of wine appreciation is going off the beaten path and exploring some lesser-known tipples. With that in mind, let’s talk about another hidden gem of the wine world: Verdejo. This wine hails from Spain and is pretty much unheard of outside of the country.
The Verdejo grape orientated in North Africa but was brought to Spain in the 11th century. Verdejo grapes were originally used only in the production of sherry. However, in the last few decades, Verdejo has become its own single grape style.
Verdejo is one the rare grapes that are grown predominantly in one country. Essentially all Verdejo production is in the Rueda region of Spain. Aside from a handful of vineyards in the United States, Spain is responsible for all Verdejo production.
Verdejo is known for its light body, almost complete lack of sweetness, and citrus notes. The wine also has a pronounced acidity, making it a very crisp and dry white wine—wonderfully refreshing in the right weather conditions. Verdejo is a very fruity wine with dominant flavors of lime. Other fruit notes found in this wine include green melons, peaches, and grapefruit. It’s not uncommon when drinking Verdejo to also detect hints of fennel and grass.
There are two main styles of Verdejo each with their own unique set of characteristics.
Young Verdejo has a clean crisp taste. Lime and grass are the most common flavor notes.
Aged Verdejos are fermented in oak and have a richer taste and texture. These wines tend to be slightly smoky with nutty notes.
The high acidity makes Verdejo a great palate cleansing drink. Pretty much anything with bitter and sour lime, lemon, or grapefruit notes will pair well with this wine. It’s also a great wine to combine with Mexican fares like carnitas, fish tacos, and chicken enchiladas.
Considering its origin it’s a great idea to try pairing the wine with Spanish cheese like Manchebo and Pecorino.
Wines to try
Tinto Rey Verdejo ($18)
A rare American offering. This wine is surprisingly complex with strong hints of orange and almonds.
Blanco Nieva Pie Franco Verdejo ($30)
Fresh and zesty with strong notes of lime and apple.
Naia Naiades Verdejo ($28)
Smoky with strong fruit notes and a long sweet finish.