Ultimate Guide to the Rias Baixas Wine Region

Viticulture requires special planting techniques in the Rias Baixas wine region thanks to routinely wet weather. See more wine pictures
­iStockphoto.com/Alison Cornford-Matheson

­You know Spain, right? Dry, hot, Spanish-speaking and a big producer of red wines? You would expect Rias Baixas then, a sub-region of Spain located in its northwestern corner, to be similar. Your expectations, however, are far from reality in this small winemaking region.

Though the summers of the Rias Baixas wine region can be warm and dry, this region is very rainy -- so much so that even its water-losing rocky soil is still too moist to grow grapes and requires special planting techniques. Spanish would probably be your first guess for the region's language, but that's not it -- and no, it's not Portuguese either, which borders the region to the north. It's a bit of a trick question, as most residents of Rias Baixas speak Gallego, the language of its mother region, Galicia. If you were thinking Portuguese, you were on the right track, though. Modern-day Gallego is closely related to Portuguese and contains subtle Spanish influences [source: Rias Baixas].

­And finally, you're sure that Spain is famous for red wines. Well, as a whole you'd be correct there too. However, true to its contrarian form, Rias Baixas bucks the trend and produces mostly white wines, including a white Demoninación de Origen (DO) wine [source: Rias Baixas]. White grapes take up the vast majority of the region's plantings, and only within the last several decades has the wine of Rias Baixas become anything worth noticing.

It's a fascinating region full of differences from traditional Spain. Maybe it h­as to do with their love of bagpipes and potatoes -- something you'll learn more about in the next section. Whatever the reason, this unique region produces some great Spanish wines, so sit back, grab a glass and continue reading to learn about the Rias Baixas wine region.