Drink white wines quickly
Canarian white wines are made to be drunk quickly so look for bottles that are only a year or two old. Anything older and the wine inside will have lost lots of its flavour. Anything over three years old is almost guaranteed to taste like bad sherry.
Get the sweetness right
Dry Canarian white wines say seco on the bottle while sweeter wines have the words afrutado or semi-sec on the label (and often come in a bluebottle). Vino dulce is more like a sweet liqueur than a wine.
Cool red maceración carbónica wines
Maceración carbónica is a wine-making technique that lets grapes ferment before crushing them. It's used in France to make Beaujolais Nouveau wines and is also popular in the Canary Islands. MC wines tend to be full of summer fruit flavours and slightly bubbly. They are meant to be chilled before drinking so pop your bottle in the fridge for an hour before opening it. You an the wines to be at about 15ºC for optimum flavour. The Viña Norte MC is an excellent wine to try.
Look for high altitude white wines
In Tenerife and Gran Canaria, it seems to be the white wines grown at high altitudes that produce the tastiest wine. The Flor de Chasna from Tenerife and the Agala from Gran Canaria are good examples. Experts say it's because the grapes are exposed to strong sunshine and a wide range of temperatures that bakes the flavour into the grapes.
Open red wines well before drinking
Canary Islands red wines are intense with lots of minerals and fruit flavours but volatile odours can build up if they are stored badly of moved around too much. Open your red wines at lest half an hour before drinking to allow them to breathe and you'll get a tastier wine in your glass.
Visit bodegas to taste before you buy
Wineries all over the Canary Islands welcome visitors and are happy to provide tasters. Not many are big enough to have full time staff dedicated to visitors so you may have to contact them in advance. Don't worry if you don like a wine you've tried. Just say it's not your style. But do buy a bottle or six if you find on that you like.
If in doubt, go for a Lanzarote white
Lanzarote white wines are the most consistent in the Canary Islands and you can't really go wrong with a dry Lanzarote white. The most common brands in supermarkets are Vega de Yuco, El Grifo and La Geria. At well under 10 euros they are all great value. Look out for Bermejo and Yaiza (the dry white is the exception to the sweet wine in blu bottles rule) at between 10-15 euros.
See our taste test for them here.
Don't focus on price
Canary Islands wines are made from grapes grown in tiny fields and picked by hand. They are always going to be slightly more expensive than Spanish riojas and Ribera del Dueros. However, few Spanish wines can match the intensity of good Canarian wines (and especially the whites). Local wines are worth the extra couple of euros for their long finish and tropical fruit flavours. Drinking locals also helps to support local farmers and protect the Canarian countryside.
Join the Canary Islands wine group
We run a small Facebook group dedicated to Canary Islands wines. It's full of tasting notes for a wide range of local red and white wines and we're always happy when members tell us about their favourites.