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Comprehensive description of all European growing areas, their grape varieties, traditions and legal rules with maps.

D.O. Málaga

Description to D.O. Málaga

DO area for the famous dessert wine in the Spanish region of Andalusia, named after the province or provincial capital of the same name on the Costa del Sol (south coast). The same area also produces normal white, rosé and red wines under the DO designation Sierras de Málaga. The Málaga is one of the oldest wines mentioned in writing and was already famous in ancient times. The city was founded around 800 BC by the Phoenicians. Around 600 B.C. the Greeks settled in Malaga and brought with them their knowledge of wine growing. Around 202 B.C. the city came under Roman rule under the name "Flavia Malacita". In 743 it was conquered by the Moors. During the Arab occupation there was a ban on alcohol with the death penalty for drunkards. Later this was replaced by fines and taxes.

In 1223, the King of France, Philip II, organized a meeting of the French government. August (1165-1223), organized the "Battle of the Wines". At this event the most renowned wines of the era were presented. Malaga wine was called the "cardinal among wines". It was not until August 1487 that Malaga came back into the possession of the Christian kings in the course of the Reconquista. This month is therefore celebrated every year a 10-day exuberant festival. In the 18th century the wine was already known far beyond its borders. In 1791, the Spanish ambassador in Moscow presented the Russian Czarina Catherine II with a gift of a bottle of wine. (1729-1796) some cases of it. She was delighted and decreed that it could be imported duty-free in future. In the Victorian Age under Queen Victoria of England (1819-1901), the popularity reached a peak.

In 1806, the "Casa y Compañía de Comercio de Viñeros de Málaga" was founded by royal decree: "To prevent the grapes from splashing about as much as possible, marks of origin are applied to the containers, crates or bales that contain them, which are difficult to forge. Two intelligent people are selected to ensure that the wines are as perfect as possible". On 1 July 1900, strict regulations were adopted and the origin was certified by a certificate of origin. In the middle of the 19th century, the province of Málaga was still the second largest Spanish wine-growing region, with 100,000 hectares of vineyards. Especially due to the phylloxera catastrophe there was a considerable reduction.

From Viñedo en Cútar.jpg, CC BY-SA 2.0, link

Area of origin and production

Today, the vineyard area covers only about 12,000 hectares, of which the DO area covers about 1,200 hectares. It is divided into five sub-areas: Axarquía (picture), Norte, Costa Occidental, Montes and, as the youngest, Serranía de Ronda. The vineyards are located in 54 municipalities around the cities of Málaga and Estepona and inland up to the banks of the Genil River at an altitude of up to 700 metres above sea level. In the north, the soil is interspersed with limestone. In the Axarquía in the north-east, clay slate predominates. In the east there are chalk soils and in the Sierra sandy loam soils.

A Malaga can be an extremely long-lasting wine. A bottle bottled in 1875 from the estate of the Duke of Wellington (1769-1852) was tasted in 1995 and showed no signs of deterioration. It should be noted, however, that this is an exception is not the rule and there are also very simple qualities that can be enjoyed young. The Malaga must be made from the Pero Ximén(Pedro Ximénez) and/or Moscatel varieties. Moscatel is mainly the Moscatel de Alejandría(Muscat d'Alexandrie), but Moscatel Morisco(Muscat Blanc) is also permitted. Concentrated musts and dry wine of the Doradilla, Lairén(Airén) and Romé varieties may also be used, provided that they do not exceed a total of 30%.

The fully ripe grapes are spread out on straw mats after the harvest and sun-dried for three weeks. Evaporation of the water produces raisined grapes with the highest sugar content. According to DO regulations, the vinification must in principle take place in the bodegas of the city of Malaga. Similar to sherry, Malaga (alternatively) is also produced with the Solera system. This means that different wines and vintages are blended together. The sweetness is mostly achieved by stopping the fermentation by sprit with spirit. Other types are sweetened before or after fermentation with Arrope (unfermented, boiled down must). Most types are oxidatively aged in oak barrels for up to five years or longer.

Information on the bottle label

On the bottle label there is information about the degree of sweetness, colour, ageing (in the barrel), alcohol content and type.

Degree of sweetness

  • seco - under 4 g/l
  • semiseco - 4 to 12 g/l
  • semidulce - 12 to 45 g/l
  • dulce - above 45 g/l
  • Dry Pale / Pale Dry - without arrope, residual sugar up to 45 g/l
  • Pale Cream - without arrope, residual sugar above 45 g/l
  • Dulce Crema / Cream - aged, residual sugar 100 to 140 g/l
  • Sweet - aged, residual sugar above 140 g/l


  • Dorado / Golden - naturally sweet, without arrope, aged
  • Rojo Dorado / Red gold - up to 5% Arrope, aged
  • Oscuro / Brown - 5 to 10% Arrope, aged
  • Color - 10 to 15% Arrope, aged
  • Negro / Dark - more than 15% Arrope, aged


  • Málaga Joven - young wine, no ageing
  • Málaga - Aged from 6 to 24 months
  • Málaga Noble - Aged 2 to 3 years
  • Málaga Añejo - 3 to 5 years old
  • Málaga Trasañejo - over 5 years old

Alcohol content

  • Vino de licor (liqueur wine) - 15 to 22% vol
  • Vino dulce natural - 15 to 22% vol, zum. 244 g/l
  • Vino naturalmente dulce - zum. 13% vol, zum. 300 g/l, without sprites
  • Vino tranquilo - 10 to 15% vol, without sprites

Malaga types

There are about 15 Malaga types between dry and sweet and an alcohol content between 15 and 22% vol.

Pedro Ximénez (Pero Ximén) and Moscatel: the name of a variety may be used if the wine is made from at least 85% of the corresponding variety, less the quantity of products possibly used for sweetening.

Pálido: Name of the Pedro Xyménez and Moscatel types to which neither arrope nor alcohol has been added and which have not undergone any ageing process.

Pajarete (Paxarete): A liqueur wine or Vino dulce natural without the addition of arrope The dark amber coloured wine matures for at least two years and has a residual sugar content of between 45 and 140 g/l.

Dulce Color: This is the classic Málaga - sweet, dark-coloured and strong in alcohol. It must have a minimum residual sugar content of 300 g/l and (before sprittling) at least 13% vol. Alcohol content. The wine, with up to 15% arrope, is mainly made from Pedro Ximénez, but it can also contain small quantities of muscatel.

Lágrima and Lacrimae Christi: For the top product, only the forerun must (Lagrima = tears) drained from the intrinsic pressure of the uncrushed grapes is used, similar to the Eszencia in the Hungarian Tokaj. The mahogany-coloured wine has a caramel and toasted aroma and is sprayed on 14 to 22% vol. alcohol content. A Lágrima matured over two years is called "Lacrimae Christi" (tears of Christ).


There are about 425 winegrowers and 16 wineries (Bodegas), which produce about 60,000 hectolitres of wine annually. More than a third of this goes into export. Well-known producers are Barceló, Gomara, Larios, López García, López Hermanos, López-Madrid, Muñoz Cabrera, Pérez Teixera, Quitapenas, Schatz, Scholtz Hermanos (closed in 1996 - but they still offer wines), Telmo Rodríguez and Tierras de Molina.

Further Information

Complete lists of the numerous vinification measures and cellar techniques, as well as the types of wine, sparkling wine and distillate regulated by wine law are included under the heading "Vinification". Comprehensive information on wine law can be found under the keyword wine law.


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