There are few places in Europe with so many products with denomination of origin as Ourense. This is especially evident in the case of wine: four of the five denominations that exist in Galicia are found in this province. A very long tradition that has its roots in the Roman presence and the monasteries, and which was already referred by the medieval King Alfonso X the Wise who sang the delights of the “good wine from Ourense”.
The oldest of all denominations of origin is Ribeiro, which includes the area of the same name: the lands bathed by the Minho and its tributaries, the Avia, the Arnoia and the Barbantino. Part of its territory is in the municipal term of the city, being this the wine to which it has traditionally been more connected. Its production occupies 2,650 hectares distributed in more than a hundred wineries, and exceeds the 7 million litres per year. Its most characteristic grape is treixadura, responsible for light, fresh and aromatic wines, especially white (although there is an incresing production of red wines).
The denomination of Valdeorras occupies the most eastern lands of Galicia (A Rúa, O Barco, Petín …), in the basin of rivers Sil, Xares and Bibei. Due to its proximity to the Spanish plateau, the climate is drier than in the rest of Galicia. Two monovarietal wines are appreciated: the most characteristic one is the godello white, with fruity aromas, of yellow, golden or straw colour, and good structure in the mouth. Among the red wines stand out those elaborated with mencía grapes, of deep purple colour, and an intense and prolonged aftertaste.
The beautiful landscapes of the Ribeira Sacra are dedicated to the production of wine, with vineyards that occupy the very steep terraces of rivers Minho and Sil, constituting a tourist attraction in itself: the geography forces to a difficult process of artisan collection which has earned the title of heroic viticulture. The orientation of the canyons favours its maturation, giving these wines, mainly mencía reds, a full body.
In the south of the province, near the border with Portugal, is the D.O. Monterrei, whose production extends through the valley of river Támega. It comes from verdello white grape and mencía red grape, in an area of something less than 500 hectares that produces 2 million litres per year.
The denomination of origin of this artisan bread, recognized in 2004, groups 18 bakeries fromt he municipality of San Cristovo de Cea, in the Mozarabic Way – Vía de la Plata to Santiago de Compostela. It is a wheat bread recognizable by its elongated shape, rounded at the ends and with a large transverse slit at the top. Its crust is thick and crisp and its crumb is spongy and uneven.
The origin of this baking tradition is linked to the neighbouring monastery of Oseira, and also to the passage of pilgrims towards Santiago, who during the Middle Ages found hospitality here. The name Cea is probably linked to this practice, because cea in Galician means dinner.
The festival of Cea bread is celebrated in the month of July.
This variety of peppers, originating in the town of the same name, in the Ribeiro wine valley, has been a protected geographical indication since 2009. They are recognized for their conical shape and smooth skin, which acquires a characteristic light green, slightly yellowish tone when they are fresh. They have an intense smell but a soft and sweet taste. The usual way to prepare them is roasted or fried in a pan.
Its festival, declared of Tourist Interest in Galicia, is celebrated during the first weekend of August.
Other Products with Denomination of Origin
In this catalogue of local delicacies deserve a special mention the chestnuts, of sweet flavour and firm texture. Although their geographical indication includes all of Galicia, they have a place of honour in the cuisine of Ourense, especially in the desserts: the city is one of the main producers and exporters of the delicate marron glacé. The famous potatoes from A Limia have also a protected geographical indication; they are round, with a thin and yellow skin and white, consistent meat. And also honey, which can be from chestnut, heather, blackberry, multi-flower…
The aguardiente or Orujo, prepared from the distillation of pomace and lees of grapes, is an ancestral recipe also recognized throughout Galicia. Essential are the elaborations that are made from it, in particular the herbal liqueurs and the coffee liquor, which in Ourense is a classic in the taverns.