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Macabeo / Viura
The Spanish aren't as well known in the Old World wine industry as some of their contemporaries, but with Macabeo, they can make the case of being underrated and underrepresented. Known as Viura in the Rioja region of northeastern Spain, Macabeo is a white grape that is also a major player in the Catalan region of the country, grown just outside of Barcelona.
Prized for its versatility, Macabeo is often blended with other dry, sweet and sparkling wines for an enhanced flavor profile. If you can find an unblended bottle that's straight from the Rioja region, it's the real deal, although options from Catalan and the French side of the Pyrenees are just as tasty. If you find a blended Macabeo that looks red, don't shy away. The grape works well with other grapes from Rioja, and often the resulting red or blush color is a testament to the wine's depth.
Macabeo is traditionally fermented in American oak barrels and subjected to years of bottled maturation before its release to bring out nutty flavors, but some regions may also bottle Macabeo without this process for a lighter option. The Spanish equivalent of Champagne, known as Cava, also relies on the Macabeo for its flavors, so if you're in the mood to celebrate, Cava is always a solid choice.
Uncork a bottle of Macabeo to unleash its supremely fruity aromas of banana, pear and pineapple. Served best at room temperature, Macabeo's tastes are an interesting bunch, ranging from floral and herbaceous to oaky and spicy. Mixed with the lingering aromas of fruit, Macabeo is an intense, head-on flavor collision with your taste buds without being overly sweet.
Like many white wines, Macabeo is best with lighter meals, such as a seafood pasta with light white sauce. Grilled salmon, shrimp or lobster would also hit the spot. For a little snack, pair Macabeo with goat cheese.