This warm-weather season, give your go-to, day-in-the-sun rosé a break and try branching out into the wonderfully offbeat world of wines from Basque Country, specifically one: txakolina (chock-o-LEE-nah). It can come in all colors and (body) sizes. Sam Bogue, wine director of the superbly rustic Aaxte in San Francisco, breaks down which to look out for on your next trip to Basque Country—or sooner, at your local wine shop.
If you like muscadet: “Most txakolina has a tiny bit of spritz, although an exceptional white one, from a producer called Bengoetxe, does not. It’s nutty, round, and has an almost beeswaxy quality due to its aging process. This bottle is a little hard to locate but you’ll find it around San Sebastian or at Aaxte, where we pour it by the glass. Try it with raw seafood, poached octopus, or paella.” $19
If you like Provençal rosé: “Txakolina, again, can come in many forms. One producer, which is easy to find domestically, Ameztoi, makes a rosé called Rubentis. It’s got all of these watermelon rind aromas—kind of bright cherry, very herbal, and peppery all at the same time. It’s a very light and lean crowd-pleaser that people flip out over. Try it with any small bites, like jamón ibéricocroquetas or classic pintxos. It’s the perfect wine for jumping from dish to dish.” $23
If you like cabernet franc: “In the coastal town of Bakio, Doniene Gorrondona makes one of the best red txakolinas out there. It comes from super-old vines that produce more complex fruits. The wine is slightly herbal with lots of red bell pepper flavors and a little bit of tannins, too. Those qualities mean it can cut through the fatty edge of fried foods and cheese.” $17