Wine lovers rejoice! Valencia, the home of paella, is not just a city where foodies can enjoy the freshest produce from the huerta and the sea in a myriad of tapas bars and creative restaurants, but also wash it down with excellent local wines. If you don’t know what to order, let us help you with a brief introduction to Valencian wines.
Most visitors to Spain have heard of Rioja wines but these are not, by far, the only Spanish wines, nor necessarily the best. Each region may have one or more Denominación de Origen (D.O. or protected designation of origin) applied to their local wines. In Valencia, you should look out for D.O. Utiel-Requena and D.O. Valencia.
D.O. Utiel-Requena is the better known and more appreciated amongst wine connoisseurs. At an altitude of more than 700 metres above sea level, the high plains around the towns of Requena and Utiel, an hour inland from Valencia, are blessed with plenty of sunshine, but also endure severely cold nights in the winter. This is where the local bobal grape variety thrives – a sturdy vine which resisted even the phylloxera plague that decimated many other vineyards.
The result are excellent reds full of flavour using mainly the bobal grape, but also others like tempranillo, cabernet sauvignon, merlot or syrah. You can find good young wines, but for a more refined experience, remember to go for a crianza (wine aged in oak barrels for at least a year) or a reserve. And although the D.O Utiel-Requena is best known for red wines, some wineries have also been producing great cavas in recent years.
Famous wineries in this region include Dominio de la Vega, Pago de Tharsys, Torre Oria and Vicente Gandía (better known for its Hoya de Cadenas brand). Many wineries offer guided visits and wine tasting. You can visit independently or go for a tour of the area on the Wine Bus which departs every Saturday from Valencia.
D.O. Valencia applies to wines grown in the proximity of the city, mainly the Alto Turia area, west of Valencia. Red wines from this area, using mostly monastrell, tempranillo, garnacha and cabernet sauvignon grapes, are usually lighter. The local merseguera grapes, alongside others like macabeo or chardonnay, are used to produce fruity white wines. The area is also known for its moscatel dessert wines. Baron de Turis is one of the brands you may find in shops and restaurants.
You can learn more about all these types of wine on a special guided tour around the city of Valencia which includes a wine tasting session: history and wine, what better combination?
Where to drink and buy wine
You can find D.O. Utiel-Requena and, less often, D.O. Valencia wines in most bars and restaurants in the city, but you may need to ask for them as sometimes the house wine is a cheaper variety from a different area. One of the best places to try is Casa Montaña (José Benlliure 69), a legendary restaurant and tapas bar in the Cabanyal area, famous for its extensive wine cellar. They regularly organise wine seminars and other activities.
In the city centre, Entrevins (Calle de la Paz 7) is an exclusive restaurant and wine bar, managed by renowned sommelier Guillaume Glories, where you can enjoy fresh produce paired with excellent wines. And La Cepa Vieja restaurant and wine bar (San Vicente Martir 209), is a good stop for those arriving or leaving on the AVE high speed train from the nearby station.
Other good places include El Huerto (Pedro III el Grande 11) in the trendy district of Ruzafa, which occupies an old palace from the beginning of the 19th century, or Tinto Fino Ultramarino (Corregería 38) in the Barrio del Carmen, where you can find a mixture of local and Italian specialities in both the menu and wine list.
If you want to buy a few bottles, try Vegamar gourmet shop (Colon 31), where you can also join wine tasting sessions, or Bodegas Baviera (Corregería 40), possibly the oldest wine shop in Valencia, dating from 1870. And if carrying wine in your luggage is a problem, there is always the duty free shop at Valencia Airport.
Now you know what to look for, beyond the Rioja section…