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A scorched landscape with lime-rich soil lined with rows of gnarly vines weighed down by heavy bunches of juicy dark-purple grapes – does that sound familiar? You will certainly enjoy a visit to the vineyards, followed by a tour of the wine cellar and a wine tasting. Alicante offers a ready-made wine route: the Ruta del Vino.
When even the Alicantinos prefer a Rioja or Ribera del Duero, you know there is something seriously wrong with the image of the local wines. This image problem is undeserved: this province produces excellent wine. In the 17th century, it was as famous as Rioja wine is today. The D.O. Alicante (Denominación de Origen) is making a comeback. The sumilleres (sommeliers) in the better wine bars in town will talk passionately about the local wines and are happy to recommend bodegas around the province that are worth a visit. There you will taste wine that is too good to spit out.
Alicante’s wine comes from 2 well defined regions: La Marina on the northern coast above Benidorm, which produces mainly white wine with muscat grapes, and Vinalopó in the south on the banks of the Vinalopó river, which mostly grows monastrell grapes for red wine. The area is dotted with wineries among the vineyards; visitors are always welcome. One of the most modern vineyards is El Sequé near the village of Pinoso. The production involves more science than romance: fermentation occurs in gigantic stainless steel vats, the quality is checked in a sterile lab and the tasting room resembles the lobby of a designer hotel. But you can still find some romance here: the cellar houses traditional oak vats, in which the outstanding El Sequé wine is aged. This wine should be savoured; back home, a bottle will set you back 30 euros. In Spain, you usually pay 10 euros less. Prefer a more traditional experience? Visit the Casa Cesilia in Novelda; here you can not only sample wines but also enjoy delicious food.
““A bottle of this outstanding wine will cost you 30 euros back home. In Spain you pay only 20.””
You don’t need to head inland to sample a good glass of Alicante wine. The city offers an increasingly fine selection. Popular El Portal Taberna & Wines (Calle Bilbao) has a large selection of tapas and 4 sommeliers to help you choose from the 300 different wines in stock. La Taberna del Gourmet (Calle San Fernando) serves hip tapas, fresh fish and over 20 different Alicante wines. Every year in June, the archaeological museum MARQ hosts a wine festival. Looking to stock up for at home? Then visit the wine store Vino & Más (Carrer Metge Antonio Anguiz), with a selection of more than 50 Alicante wines. Also grab a bottle of Fondillón, a typical Alicante semi-sweet dessert wine.