A wine-lover's tour of the Canary Islands: the best Spanish wines
Some of the best Spanish wines are grown way south of the mainland. Taste the delicious volcanic wines of the Canary Islands, from Tenerife to Lanzarote.
If you’re a true wine-lover, then you’ve probably already discovered the cellars of Champagne and Bordeaux. You’ve probably visited the vineyards of La Rioja, in the north of Spain, and developed a taste for some of the best Spanish wines.But have you ever sampled the delights of wine from the Canary Islands? This little archipelago not far from the coast of Africa produces some sensational Spanish wine. Treat yourself to a holiday sampling some of the best wines, whilst tucking into delicious local food and enjoying the spectacular volcanic scenery.Sound good? Read on to find out a little about the history of wine from the Canaries, and where you need to go to taste the best Spanish wines for yourself.
The long history of wine from the Canary Islands
Way back in the 16th century, exporting Malvasia wine became the islands’ main source of income, until the Portuguese island of Madeira began to dominate the wine trade.It was popular with nobility and royalty all over Europe, and a mention of a ‘cup of Canary’ even makes it into Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. In fact, rumour has it that Shakespeare would even accept barrels of ‘Canary wine’ as a form of payment.The Canary Islands boast some of Europe’s oldest vines, which are ungrafted, meaning they grow from their own ancient roots. But for a long time, the wine produced wasn’t all that much to write home about. These days, however, the 225 vineyards spread amongst the islands are well worth a visit.Winemakers here tend to stick to local grape varieties, and it’s that, compared with the high altitudes and volcanic soil that means the wines produced on six of the seven islands are so distinctive.
Tasting best Spanish wines on each of the islands
Now you know a little about the history of Canary Islands’ wine, it’s time to start planning your trip to taste it for yourself. Let’s take a tour of some of the best spots for tasting different Spanish wine types in the Canary Islands.
Visiting the best Lanzarote vineyards
Out of all of the Canary Islands, Lanzarote might be the most famous for its wine these days. It wasn’t producing wine when Shakespeare was around to sip it, but it’s still home to the oldest bodega in the archipelago, Bodegas El Grifo, which can be visited on most wine tours in Lanzarote.In Lanzarote, vines were first planted in the 18th century after lava eruptions meant they could grow very little else, and vines had to be planted in hollows dug down into the lava to protect them from the wind. These days, that makes a vineyard tour in Lanzarote a very memorable experience, with its striking landscape.
You’ll find wines of all types in Lanzarote, and some people even consider certain ones to be some of the best Spanish wines there are. Taste the classic Malvasia Lanzarote wine, or branch out and try a dessert wine, a rosé, or a red wine. Some say that, when you drink the Malvasia Spanish white wine produced on Lanzarote, you can practically taste the volcano in it.If you can’t get enough, why not visit Lanzarote for the ‘wine run’ in June. Do a half marathon, or just take a casual 10-km walk through various wineries in Lanzarote, stopping for tastings. The winner of this event gets their weight in wine. There’s a great food and wine festival afterwards.
Discover wonderful vineyards in Tenerife
Lanzarote might have the oldest vines in the Canary Islands, but Tenerife has the highest vines in the whole of Spain. Bodegas Suertes del Marqués has stunning vineyards that you can visit, which sit as high as 2,400 feet. You can also try 13 of their organic wines whilst you’re up there.A great place to top off the Tenerife wine experience is Casa del Vino, a wine museum where you’ll find exhibits, vines, a tasting room and a very good restaurant.Tenerife is the island where the majority of the best Spanish wines in the Canary Islands are produced, and many of the vineyards, like Marqués, sit on the slopes of the volcano of Mount Teide.Bodegas Monje is another fantastic spot to visit, run for well over 200 years by the same family, with 15 different wines on offer for you to taste.
Canary Island vineyards in Gran Canaria
Last but not least, Gran Canaria is another of the big wine producers in the Canary Islands. Wines grown here tend to have strong mineral flavours, and some of the best Spanish wines on the island are produced in the high-altitude vineyards such as Bodegas Bentayga.
Taste unique wine, wherever you are in the archipelago
It’s wonderful to have the chance to see the vines for yourself and learn about the process of winemaking, but you can taste great Spanish wines wherever you are in the Canary Islands.Just go along to a good local bar or get recommendations for the best, authentic Canarian restaurants from your hotel and ask for tips on the best local wines to try with your traditional Canarian dishes.Spend your next holiday discovering wine and food in the Canary Islands, and we can promise you that you won’t regret it.