Why they're unique: Todd Hess -- partner at H2Vino, an importer and distributor also based in Chicago -- is hot on this cluster of Spanish islands off the northwestern coast of Africa. He points out that Tenerife, the largest island, is not only part rainforest and part desert, but that it also boasts Mount Teide, the third-largest volcano in the world. "This does all sorts of weird things for the climate," Hess says. "A lot of the grapes in Tenerife are being grown on fairly recent volcanic soil, so they have a flavor affinity with the Sicilian wines found near Mount Etna." Much of the wine production is sold to European tourists, who flock to the Canaries for epic beaches and warm weather. Luckily, some bottles are making their way across the Atlantic, courtesy of importers like Hess and distributors like David Bowler.
What to seek out: Hess recommends the grapes listan negro and listan blanco, for flavor and -- why not? -- a good yarn. "Those make some really cool wines. The reds tend to be kind of spicy, Côtes du Rhône-like. The whites are floral and really pretty." He goes on to say, "There's a hidden tie to the early days of California winemaking," and tells Thrillist that the negro was recently discovered to be the same grape as the mission grape from California, which was used in early American winemaking. Hess also name-checks grapes like malvasia -- which makes sparking wines and dry and sweet whites -- albillo, gual, and vijariego. Ignios Orígenes, on Tenerife, makes a fine example of the last type and he also recommends the wineries Tajinaste, Viñátigo, and Los Bermejos (which is on the island of Lanzarote).