As you probably already know, the Atlantic Islands National Park is located at a point on the map known as the Rías Baixas. This coastal area is part of the provinces of Pontevedra and A Coruña and is popular because of its landscapes, mild climate (which is not as wet as some may think) and its a gastronomy, which is dominated by the local seafood, fish and wines. The wines of this region are a real delight for the palate so, in this post we will give you some tips for combining and enjoying the wines of the Rías Baixas in Cíes and Ons. Can you think of anywhere better to try them?
Firstly, get to know the wines of the Rías Baixas
The wines of the Rías Baixas are denomination of origin wines. This protected wine-growing area is located mostly in the province of Pontevedra, although a small part of it is in A Coruña. It covers an area of over 4000 hectares which are distributed among five sub-zones: Val do Salnés, O Rosal, Ribeira do Ulla, Condado do Tea and Soutomaior.
The albariño is the queen of grapes of this denomination of origin, although the Regulatory Board for the Rías Baixas Denomination of Origin will allow other native grape varieties, such as the white loureira, treixadura, godello, red loureira or the mencía, among others. The combination of these grapes produces different wines that enjoy great prestige both within and outside Spain.
These are some of the Rías Baixas D.O. wines that you can find in the restaurants of Cíes, Ons and in the places where our destination ports are located:
- Rías Baixas Albariño: This wine is made from 100% albariño grape from all the sub-zones. The Rías Baixas Albariño wine is internationally famous, it has a yellow straw colour and a fruity and floral aroma; it is smooth and fresh in the mouth. This is an option that should not be missed by those tasting the wines of the Rías Baixas in Cíes and Ons.
- Rías Baixas Val do Salnés: This wine has to contain at least 70% albariño grape. The remaining grapes should come from the sub-zone of Val do Salnés (which the municipality of Sanxenxo belongs to, and which is the departure port for the Mar de Ons). This is a subtle and aromatic white wine with very fresh acidity.
- Rías Baixas Condado de Tea: This plurivarietal wine is mainly made from the albariño and treixadura grape varieties. The sub-zone where it is produced is Condado de Tea, which is adjacent to Vigo, another departure port for trips aboard the Mar de Ons. The Rías Baixas Condado de Tea is very intense in the nose and it has less acidity than the other wines from the same D. O.
- Rías Baixas Rosal: Among the wines of the Rías Baixas in Cíes and Ons you will also find bottles of Rías Baixas Rosal, a wine containing albariño and loureira grapes in equal proportions or over 70%. The loureira variety has a lot of freshness and acidity. The O Rosal sub-zone, also near Vigo, has some of the most important wineries of the Rías Baixas.
Other bottles that are becoming increasingly famous
Perhaps the following Rías Baixas wines are not as well-known as those above, but their popularity is growing year on year:
- Rías Baixas Red: Made with red grapes permitted by the Rías Baixas D. O., this wine works differently when it is combined. The sommeliers describe it as a very fresh and fruity wine with high acidity.
- Rías Baixas Sparkling: This is a wine that contains grape varieties accepted by the Regulatory Council. It is made following the champenoise method. Although the white sparkling wines are consumed more frequently, there are some red sparkling wines. The Rías Baixas sparkling wines are becoming increasingly important within the markets; and in recent years, consumer and winery interest in this wine has skyrocketed.
Would you know how to combine the large variety of Rías Baixas wines with the traditional gastronomy of Cíes and the traditional gastronomy of Ons? We’ll give you a helping hand! 🙂
Combinations for enjoying the wines of the Rías Baixas in Cíes and Ons
Cíes and Ons are two magnificent settings in which to savour the foods of the Atlantic where fish and seafood take the leading role.
The restaurants on these islands serve mainly traditional regional dishes prepared using traditional, home-cooked methods. These establishments offer dishes based on local fish and Galician products or those of the neighbouring areas.
These are some of the most notable dishes from Cíes and Ons for you to combine with the wines of the Rías Baixas:
- Octopus: This is the star mollusc of the Atlantic Islands National Park, and particularly, of the Ons archipelago. In both places, you will be able to try it as á feira, although in Ons the octopus caldeirada is also very popular, and the flavour of the octopus is very different in this dish because of the way it is cooked and served (it is accompanied by boiled potatoes, also known as cachelos). The Rías Baixas Albariño wine is the perfect partner for these octopus dishes. However, we really don’t recommend overdoing the paprika or using too much spice.
- Seafood: It is customary to be served the seafood of the islands and of the Rías Baixas, such as barnacles, razor shells, clams, scallops or mussels. To combine with this type of seafood, ideally choose a dry white wine from the Rías Baixas D. O.. Once again, the Rías Baixas Albariño is one of the best choices, as it has mineral hints which go well with seafood. If you want to try something more innovative, try combining the seafood with a sparkling wine made from the albariño grape.
- Rice: They cook some marvellous rice and seafood dishes in the Cíes and Ons archipelagos. These dishes combine phenomenally with any Rías Baixas white wine.
- Fish: To fully enjoy the wines of the Rías Baixas in Cíes and Ons, drink them with some delicious fresh fish. The restaurants on the islands are experts in preparing the fish from the marine depths around them, such as jack, sea bass, turbot, skate or sole. Accompany them with an albariño wine from the Rías Baixas; its sweet notes will lighten the saltiness of these dishes.
Octopus, the star mollusc of the Atlantic Islands National Park
More suggestions for good combinations
As well as accompanying seafood and fish, the wines of the Rías Baixas make good partners with these dishes:
- Traditional Galician tapas: Before lunch or dinner, those visiting Cíes and Ons cannot resist the most traditional Galician tapas: some estuary calamari, Padron peppers, millo pasties (made with maize)… They will all taste even better if accompanied by a glass of Rías Baixas Albariño.
- Galician veal: The islands are also a good place to try different cuts of Galician veal. For red meats, the best thing is to go for a red from the Rías Baixas with a good body and a high tannin content.
- Traditional desserts: With their fizzy texture, the sparkling wines of the Rías Baixas are an ideal accompaniment to the home-made desserts that you can try on the Cíes and Ons. Under no circumstances should you miss the delicious Galician tarta de queixo ó forno (oven-baked cheese cake)!
You are now more than ready to try these soups in the spectacular landscapes of the Cíes and Ons, don’t you think? Which combination will you start with?
The Mar de Ons takes you to Cíes and to Ons
Aboard the Mar de Ons ferry, we provide transport so that you can enjoy the wines of the Rías Baixas on Cíes and Ons. Our ferries sail to these archipelagos from various destination ports: Sanxenxo, Portonovo, Bueu, Baiona, Combarro, Pontevedra, Cangas and Vigo. You can check the timetables for our trips to the islands on our website: the timetables change depending on whether it is high or low season.
If you visit Cíes during the winter, which is a great way to take a break from routine and be in touch with nature, be aware that the opening times of restaurants also varies in the low season. You can take your own food to Cíes and Ons (remember that there are no waste bins there!) and when you return from your visit you will find containers at the port in which to place your rubbish. Don’t forget to recycle correctly by making use of the corresponding container for each type of rubbish. While on the islands, it is also important to respect the animals and their feeding habits. For this reason, you should not feed the gulls, as they are extremely fearless and greedy. Perhaps you would prefer to wait until the spring or summer to escape to the islands and to enjoy the interesting gastronomy that they offer.
To spend a delightful week-end in the Atlantic Islands National Park, you can request information about our current trips by telephoning + 34 986 22 52 72. Before buying the ticket, please find out about any possible restrictions that the Galician Government may have imposed at that time (such as perimeter closures) to stop the spread of COVID-19. With this in mind, we want to assure you that our transport is safe and that we operate within the safety measures and recommendations provided by the Health Service. Find out about our COVID-19 measures here.
We very much looking forward to seeing you, from Cíes, from Ons and from the marvellous Rías Baixas Denomination of Origin wines. Cheers!