Malaga Wine

This week I visited Malaga Wine Museum on the edge of the city of Malaga. Located inside the palace of Biedmas, a grand 18th building. This museum is also the Regulatory HQ for Malaga Wines.

Local Wine in this region was officially recognised as a D.O in 1933. Although the regions love affair with wine goes back right to Phoenician times.

Inside they have a collection of wine making machinery from different centuries. Vintage packaging from the last 100 years and information explaining all the varieties of Malaga wine.

Malaga Wine Museum Spain

Museo del Vino Malaga

Visiting Malaga Wine Museum I learnt a lot. I was familiar with some Malaga wines. Botani by Jorge Ordoñez in Velez-Malaga and Nino de la Salinas in the North. They produce one my favourite Rosé wines. Al Fresco Rosado (A perfect for summertime tipple)

On this visit I learnt about the five different geographies of Malaga wines.

  • Montes de Malaga An uneven terrain with slate slopes and not much soil. Mainly Moscatel and Pedro Ximenez grape varieties are grown here.
  • Serrania de Ronda has a cooler climate and plenty of rain. Varieties grown here are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah or Petit verdot.
  • Axarquia has steep slopes and mountains terrain. This region produces White and Red Romé varieties as well as Moscatel for Raisins and wine.
  • Norte With Red limey soil the summers are hot and winters are cold. Doradilla which is only found in Malaga is grown here as well as Pedro Ximenez variety.
  • Costa/Manilva On the border with Cadiz province this region is close to the Meditteranean Sea. Prodcuers here grow Moscatel grapes.

Malaga Wine Museum

What does D.O mean?

D.O is short for Denominacion de Origen in Spanish. This classification system is used for Spanish wines and for foods too. These D.O certifications are linked to a geographical region, decided by the Regulatory Comittee, known as Consejo Regulador in Spanish.

As well as the geographical area other factors make a wine a D.O. Varietals used in the production, percentage of alcohol, quality standards, production methods and maximum yields.

Now 45 different producers are registered as producers of Denominacion de Origen Malaga Wine. These 45 wineries are located in the 5 areas listed above.

Wines from Malaga Spain.

To meet the requirements Malaga wine should be matured in Oak barrels.

The categories are as follows:

D.O Origen Malaga

  • Pale – no ageing
  • Malaga –  aged from 6 months or more in oak
  • Noble Aged 2-3 years in American oak
  • Añejo Aged for 3-5 years in American oak
  • Rasañejo Aged for over 5 years in American oak

The D.O Sierras of Malaga (Mountains) was recognised in 2001 and the categorisation is different.

D.O Sierras de Malaga

  • Harvest
  • Crianza – 2 years ageing with 6 months in oak
  • Reserva 36 months for Red Wines with 12 months in oak and 2 years in the bottle
  • Reserva 24 months of ageing for White and Rosé Wines
  • Gran reserva 24 months in oak and 36 months in bottles for Red wine
  • Gran Reserva 48 months of ageing for White and Rosé Wines

Malaga Raisins pasas

Malaga Raisins

As I mentioned before D.O is not only for wines. Foods such as Olive Oil, Cheese, Seafood or Raisins can also be Demoninacion de Origen in Spain. Malaga Raisins have their own D.O Pasas de Málaga since 2004.

They are also recognised by the United Nations Organisation for Food and Agro-Industry. Declaring Moscatel raisins as a SIPAM, Important System of World Agricultural Heritage.

Due to its richness in biodiversity and sustainable agricultural systems in the region.

Raisin Box Inlay Vintage packaging Malaga Spain

Raisins are produced in the North and Axarquia regions. There are two varieties of Moscatel grape produced in Malaga, Alejandria and Moscatel de Malaga. Growing in the area since 12th-15th centuries when they were introduced by Muslim settlers at the time of Al Andalus.

In the last part of the 18th century and early 19th century the Raisins and local Wine of Malaga were exported from the Port of Malaga. Popular in the USA and UK, even the Founding Fathers of America drank Malaga wine.

El Borge

Dried naturally in the sun at the end of the summer and exported throughout the world.

Sweet moscatel raisins have had some stunning packaging over the centuries. This example above is the inlay of a box of raisins for export to London in the late 1800s.

They even have a Raisin festival each year Mid September in El Borge. They celebrate by eating raisins, drinking moscatel wine and singing.  There are also some demonstrations of wine pressing and drying processes of the raisins too.  (3rd Sunday in Sept)

Quitapenas Winery Malaga Spain

Quitapenas Wine

After visiting the wine museum we headed to Quitapenas Winery. This Malaga producer has been trading since 1880 and has evolved into the business it is today. Now located close to Malaga airport, they have created new products like Vermut or refreshing white wines. Malaga wines for many years have been known as the Pedro Ximenez sweet dessert wines.

However as you can see from this article the variety of Malaga wines now is vast. With Dry Moscatel wines, Crisp whites and Full bodied Red varieties to sample, the industry has moved on in recent years.



When tasting some of their wines one of them stood out from the rest. Pajarete is aged for 3 years in American oak. Made with 80% Pedro Ximenez, 19% Moscatel de Alejandria and a touch of Tinta Romé variety. This last grape is only grown in this region of Spain. Pajarete is an ambar colour, almost coppery.

Of all the wines I tried at Bodega Quitapenas Pajarete was my pick of the day.

Quitapenas Dorado

For Christmastime or cold winter nights I would choose Quitapenas Dorada. Not only for its bling golden bottle which decorates any table. Also as it is similar to the traditional sweet Málaga wine without the deep raisin colour or treacly consistency.

Made from Moscatel it has a distinctive sweet taste, honey-like but not too much for a dessert wine.

This retails around the 10 euro mark in Spain.

With thanks to Malaga Wine Museum who showed me round and to Bodegas Quitapenas for the tasting.

This experience really opened my eyes to Malaga Wines.


Malaga Wines Spanish Food Andalucia