Spaniards definitely know what's up. The outdoor markets, sparkling beaches, the art, the food! Not to mention the wine made in Spain is highly underrated. Unlike their expensive neighbors to the north, Spainards make beautifully crafted complex wine that is affordable and different. Introducing...Txakoli.
Traditionally made and enjoyed in Spain's Basque region, Txakoli (pronounced Cha-ko-lee) is garnering more and more attention on wine lists here in the states. Made from indigenous grapes Hondarribi Zuri and Hondarribi Beltza, the high-acid, low alcohol wine is fairly dry and just slightly effervescent (a result of being bottled with residual carbonic) which makes for a perfect apertif. In Spain, Txakoli is typically drunk in small glasses alongside little pintxos- small bar snacks held together by a skewer. Here in America we opt for a large glass (or two) and some fried potatoes. The bubbly wine pairs well with octopus, mild goat cheese, and plenty of good friends.
This lovely libation is not hard to find in New York. Several wine stores and tapas restaurants are catching on to this spritzy spirit and encouraging newbies to give it a shot. Both Gnarly Vines in Brooklyn and Tinto Fino in the East Village are known to carry Txakoli. Mario Batali's new tapas restaurant, Casa Mono offers Txakoli by the glass-and-a-half. And bartenders at Boqueria in SoHo pour Txakoli from high above the bar into wide mouthed glasses to enhance the bubble factor and entertain laughing guests with the resulting spillage.
Txakoli is the perfect spring or summer beverage. Pop open a bottle and enjoy it on someones roof with a big group of friends and a sunset. Pack a picnic of serrano ham, manchego cheese and olives and wash it all down with some Txomin Etxaniz 2007. Your girlfriend will probably be impressed if you show up with rosé Txakoli on your next anniversary. And your wino friends will be impressed when you bring it to your next dinner party. Olé!