The region of Malaga is perhaps best known as a tourist destination, but did you know that they also make wine there? Malaga wine is a sweet dessert wine and usually comes from the Pedro Ximenez and Moscatel grapes. In addition to the sweet wines from the Malaga DO, the region produces dry white, red and rosé wines under the Sierras de Malaga denomination.
Where is Malaga wine made?
Malaga wine comes from the city of Malaga in Andalusia, Spain. Within the Malaga denomination, there are three distinct regions that grow the grapes for sweet Malaga wines: La Axarquia, Montes de Malaga, and Zona Norte. The two main grapes grown here, Pedro Ximenez and Moscatel, are very common in the production of Spain’s most famous fortified wine, Sherry. Other grapes grown here to produce sweet Malaga wine include Romé, Lairén and Doradilla.
How is Malaga wine made?
The sweet wines of Malaga may be fortified – like Sherry and Port – or unfortified and naturally sweet. The fortified wines, known as Vinos de Licor, have a distilled spirit added during the fermentation phase of the winemaking process. The resulting wines routinely reach between 15% and 22% of alcohol content. The unfortified sweet Malaga wines, can fall into two categories:
- Naturally sweet wine produced from overripe grapes, deliberately picked late in the harvest for maximum natural sugars, known as Dulce Natural.
- Naturally sweet wine produced from very concentrated grapes that have been sun-dried.
There is a hierarchy applied to sweet Malaga wines, classifying them according to the ageing they have undergone, in cask and bottle. The youngest Malaga wine is classified simply as “Málaga”, having been aged for between 6 months and 2 years. Wine aged between 2 and 3 years is labelled “Málaga Noble”, between 3 and 5 years is “Málaga Añejo” and over 5 years is “Málaga Trasañejo”. A final category is “Málaga Pálido”, which has been aged in the Solera system. This ageing technique famous in producing the very finest Sherry wines, such as the absolutely stunning Pérez Barquero 1905 Pedro Ximénez Solera Fundacional Lote B.
What should you eat with Malaga wine?
Sweet Malaga wine is a dessert wine that goes very well with a wide range of sweet desserts. Aim for the wine to at least match the level of sweetness in the food. Cheesecakes, apple pies, fruit tarts and toffee cakes are all great pairings with sweet Malaga wine.
What should you drink instead of Malaga wine?
Let’s be honest: Malaga wine is not easy to find. Unless you are in Malaga or the surrounding areas, you’re probably going to have a difficult time finding a good bottle at a fair price. As a result, you’ve got two options: Take a trip to the beautiful Malaga region, taste to your heart’s content and stock up, or else look for alternatives. Luckily, high-quality alternatives to Malaga wine are quite easy to find. The obvious choice to look for is a high quality sweet Sherry, ideally one that has a lot of Pedro Ximénez (PX) and Moscatel. Gran Barquero Pedro Ximénez is a tasty example of pure PX at a reasonable price, while Colleción Roberto Amillo Pedro Ximénez is a more decadent example that will have you forgetting all about Malaga and planning a trip to Jerez instead!