Cooking to the Wine: Ulacia Blanco Getariako Txakolina and Crispy Cod with Garlic, Jalapeños, and Lime (#WorldWineTravel)

A couple of summers ago, my brother-in-law and sister-in-law rented a house in San Sebastián for a month. It was a HUGE bummer that we couldn’t swing getting away at the time to join them for a bit. I mean who doesn’t want to go lounge on a beach in a gorgeous Spanish resort town that’s famed for having a galaxy of Michellin Stars?! So jealous! I’m hoping we’ll be able to rectify the error in the future. It was all the more disappointing since I also love the wines from the Basque Country and would’ve loved to explore the area. *Sigh.* Someday.

Donostia Igeldotik.jpg
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia. 

In the meantime, I can bring the dream home in the form of bottles of Txakolina, which I do fairly on the regular during the warm weather months. They’re among my favorite summertime wines.  Txakolina, aka Txakoli (pronounced "Chock-o-lee,” and also spelled Chacoli, Txacoli or Chakoli), is the wine of the Basque Country. The wines don’t tend to be super complex, but it’s light, often sprtizy, refreshing, and all-around delightful. They also tend to be low in alcohol – between 9.5% and 11.5% –  making it perfect to enjoy on chill summer days without worries of getting too zonked out, often an unfortunate side-effect of day drinking. 

The Basque Country, or el País Vasco, is located in northeastern Spain, near the border with France. The region is on the Atlantic’s Bay of Biscay near the Pyrenees Mountains, with the Cantabrian Mountains to the west. The area isn’t really known for its wines, but as I said, they’re lovely and so easy to drink. The are three DOs: Arabako Txakolina, Bizkaiko Txakolina, and Getariako Txakolina. (It’s worth mentioning that Rioja’s Alavesa subregion is also in Basque Country, but that’s a different discussion.) All three DOs are quite small – among the smallest in Spain.

Map courtesy of

Our wine today comes from Getariako Txakolina, the furthest east of the Txakolina DOs, just 18 miles from the French border. The DO lies right against the coast, organized around the towns of Getaria and Zarautz, and not far from San Sebastián. It’s the smallest of the three DOs, but it makes the most wine. 

Map courtesy of

The area has a mild maritime climate. The Atlantic Ocean brings rain and has a cooling effect, but the majority of the vineyards are located on the southeast-facing slopes of the foothills of the Pyrenees. The hills shield the vines from some of the weather, creating milder micro-climates.

Image courtesy of

The Basque are known for being fiercely independent and keeping with that reputation, they’ve stuck with the region’s indigenous grapes. Their principal white grape Hondarrabi Zuri accounts for 95% of plantings, and red Hondarrabi Beltza is also planted, mostly for use in rosé wines. Despite having similar names, the grapes aren’t related in any way. The grapes are named for the nearby town of Hondarribia, and zuri and beltza mean “white” and “black” respectively. Hondarrabi Zuri Zerratia, Izkiriota / Gros Manseng, Izkiriota Ttippia /Petit Manseng, Riesling, and Chardonnay are all also permitted but are planted in small quantities.

As is the case with many old varieties, the origins of Hondarabbi Zuri are still a matter of debate, and it might actually be the case that the name is used for three completely different grapes in the region: Courbu Blanc, Crouchen, and Noah. However, Hondarabbi Zuri makes such a lighthearted wine that seems a little silly to get too far into the technicalities. (As prone as I might be to doing so!) Just like with the word Txakoli, you'll also find a million and one different spellings for the grape's name – just go with it. 

Getariako Txakolina’s wines are meant to be drunk young and tend to be full of citrus flavors, hints of herbs, and lots of minerality. When you add in the hint of spritz you’ll find in the wines, you’re sure to find yourself picturing a day at the beach. The majority is clearly enjoyed in exactly this way since most of it never leaves the Basque region. It’s drunk in large quantities at pintxo bars where it’s often poured out of a porrón, a traditional glass pitcher that helps to enhance the fizz. It’s been gaining in popularity in the US since the early 2000s, and I am certainly happy to emulate the Basque in this respect. 


Me pouring Takolina Rosé out of a porrón.


Ulacia is located in the fishing town of Getaria. The winery has been family-owned for three generations and is currently run by Julian and Maia Ulacia. The estate is small – only 6 hectares, producing 6,000 cases of wine per year – and they pay a lot of attention to quality. In 2009 they built a new winery in order to incorporate new technology so as “to create a txakoli with unique characteristics that evokes the green meadows of Getaria from where the grapes are obtained,” per the website.

This wine is simply fun and refreshing. On the nose, there were aromas of lime skin, grapefruit, fresh white flowers, and stones. The palate was similar but with notes of green pear, white peach, and key lime joining in. It’s fairly light in body with zingy acidity and a spritzy lift.

This is a wine I’ve had many times before, so I had lots of ideas of what to pair it with. It will love anything seafood. I’d been planning to make ceviche since that and a big helping of tortilla chips seemed like an ideal match, but we ended up having that just a few days before at some friends’ house. I ultimately decide to take inspiration from Bacalao al Pil Pil, a Basque dish involving salt cod cooked in extra virgin olive oil, garlic, and chili, with straightforward fish and chips. I don’t love salt cod to begin with and frying cod filets is much, much quicker. While Pil Pil sauce is creamy and with a depth of flavor, I used similar flavors to infuse olive oil for a speedy topper. I swapped in jalapeños for the chilis, but feel free to use the pepper of your choice. I served the fish on simply roasted potato slices with a simple green salad. This dish definitely doesn’t have the complexity of Pil Pil, it’s simple, fairly quick, crispy, and has a punch of flavor. 

It was also delicious with the wine! It was the type of combo that had us want to follow up each bite with a big swig of the wine. Super yummy!


Fish or shrimp tacos, poké bowls, fried seafood – really anything fried – green olives, and light tapas would all make great pairings. I’ve shared a recipe for Parsley-Tomato Shrimp with Lemon Pepper Orzo on Nibbling Gypsy, which paired beautifully with another favorite Txakolina by Ameztoi. You’ll also find an example of a rosé version in this post.

For me, Txakolina exists in a very similar flavor camp to Vinho Verde, and to a slightly lesser degree Rías Baixas, so can you pretty much swap around the pairings.


Taken from the 2020 tech sheet and the producer’s website.

A blend of 95% Hondarrabi Zuri and 5% Hondarrabi Beltza rooted in granite bedrock with a clay topsoil. Grapes are hand-harvested in late September or early October; direct pressing into steel tanks for fermentation and three-month elevage. Bottled with residual carbonic zing from the tanks.

Their vines range anywhere from 5 to 60 years old. The grapes are trained on trellises and arbors with south-facing exposition. 


The average price of this wine is $20. I’m blanking out on where I picked it up, but that is about what I typically see it going for. It’s a Solid Value and I’ll continue to happily grab more bottles in the future!

dinner, lunch
Spanish, Mediterranean
Servings: 2 to 4
By: Nicole Ruiz Hudson
Crispy Cod with Garlic, Jalapeños, and Lime

Crispy Cod with Garlic, Jalapeños, and Lime

Prep Time: 10 MinCooking Time: 20 MinTotal Time: 30 Min


  • 2 to 4 cod filets
  • Flour, for dredging (I used Wondra Flour, as it coats really well and burns less quickly than regular flour)
  • 3 to 4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeds removed (if desired), and thinly sliced
  • 1 to 2 limes – 1 tsp zest, juice of ½ lime, and the rest cut into quarters for serving
  • 2 Tbsp sliced green onions or scallions (about 4 to 5 spears), optional, for garnish
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil


  1. Pat down cod filets with paper towels to make sure they’re dry. Season with salt and pepper and lightly dredge through flour. Set aside.
  2. Pour enough olive oil in a pan so that it comes up about a ¼ inch. (I prefer a non-stick pan for this purpose.) Add in the garlic and jalapeños and heat over medium to medium-high heat until the garlic is becoming fragrant and starting to turn golden. Spoon the garlic and jalapeños out of the pan and into a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Turn the heat up to medium-high heat, if it’s not already there. Make sure the oil remaining in the pan is hot enough to shimmer, then add the cod to the pan and cook for about 4 minutes, or until the fillets are golden brown. Carefully flip and repeat on the second side, cooking until the fish is fully cooked through. Transfer the filets out of the pan and season again with salt and pepper.
  4. Remove the pan from heat and gently swirl in the lime juice (be careful, the oil might spit). Add the garlic and jalapeños back into the oil, along with the lime zest, and the majority of the green onions if using.
  5. Serve the fish with the oil and garlic mixture spooned on top, and garnish with additional green onions if using. Serve with potatoes, rice, or vegetables.
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The rest of the World Wine Travel (#WorldWineTravel) Blogging group is exploring the Basque region of Spain hosted by Jill Barth of L'Occasion. Check out their posts for more great pairings!

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  1. I'll second your fried fish motion....I paired my Tzakolina with Fried Walleye and it was lovely but I think the spice in your fried cod dish would have been the bomb. I'm going to give your recipe a try. Thanks

    1. Your fish fry looked great as well and these wines just love anything fired!

  2. I so want a Porron now! It's so pretty! Thank you for introducing me to this beautiful new gadget that I need! I must admit that a rose txakoli and a poke bowl really sounds good!

    1. Porrons are so fun! Fully recommend, and I do love that rosé!


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