Spanish wines are well-known for being high quality and affordable. That is, you’ll certainly be getting the value of your money—no, scratch that. You’ll definitely be getting more than what you paid for.
Aside from their impeccable quality, Spanish wines are also deeply rooted in tradition and history.
The Evolution of the Spanish Wine Industry
Spain is currently holding the spot for the third largest wine producing country in the world, constantly competing with France and Italy for the exalted position as the world’s leading winery.
Spain boasts a whopping 3,000 years of lush history in winemaking, starting with the grapes planted by the Phoenicians in the Sherry region thousands of years ago.
Although the Sherry Triangle wines are well-known in the country, only those produced in the Rioja region experienced international acclaim. It was only in the 20th century, when more Spanish wines came into prominence, primarily through the efforts of affluent producers, such as the Marqués de Riscal, Marqués de Murrieta, and Vega Sicilia.
During this time, however, the Spanish wine industry was mostly underground, since the country was under a military dictatorship until the 1970s.
But once Spain was granted democracy, the country finally stepped into the global limelight, earning its status in the winemaking industry.
Significant Spanish Wine Regions
Listed above are some of the key wine regions in Spain.
- Rioja. Rioja is probably the most popular winery in Spain, highly acclaimed for its selection of red wines. It is further divided into three: Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa, and Rioja Baja. The first two experience a cool climate, while the latter is more temperate.
Rioja is flanked by the Cantabria and Demanda mountain ranges, which serve as a physical barrier. Additionally, the river Ebro ebbing through the region provides enough moisture for growing grapes. The combination of these two factors has definitely resulted in an ideal winemaking environment.
Some of the wines from Rioja are Crianza, Reserva, and Gran Reserva.
- Ribera del Duero. Ribera del Duero is also another chief red wine producer. It’s famous for its wines made from the Tempranillo grape.
This region experiences extreme climates—that is, scorching summers and severe winters. This means that the grapes have to endure myriads of weather conditions before they find themselves in a bottle of wine.
- Penedes. Penedes is famed for its sparkling wines, reds, and whites.
- Rias Baixas. This region is renowned for its Albarino grapes, which are often used in white wines. These wines are marked by their acidity and fruity flavors.
- Priorato. Priorato is nestled in the mountainous area of northeastern Spain. The wines from this region are full-bodied reds typified by a high alcohol content and tannin levels.
Priorato’s wines are also one of the costliest wines in Spain.
- Navarra. Navarra is in close proximity to the southern border of France. It’s famous for its rosé and red wines—all of which are robust, food-friendly, and reasonably priced.
- Jerez. The Sherry Triangle is comprised of the three sun-drenched towns of Jerez, Puerto de Santa Maria, and Sanlucar de Barrameda. These towns acquired the unique name “Sherry Triangle” from the Sherry wines they produce.
- Tempranillo. Upon the mention of “Spanish red wine,” the first thing that wine enthusiasts will probably think of is tempranillo.
Tempranillo grapes are harvested earlier than usual, resulting to fresh and fruity reds.
- Garnacha (Grenache). Most people associate these grapes with France; but the truth is, garnache is actually of Spanish descent.
Today, this grape can be found in almost all wine-producing countries in the world.
- Bobal. Bobal wines are robust and colorful.
- Monastrell. Monastrell grapes are intense; thus, the wines they produce are stronger than usual.
- Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet Sauvignon isn’t really a Spanish grape variety, as you might have guessed, but the cabernet has been cultivated in Spain—and with stunning results!
- Merlot. Merlot is another French grape that has found its way into Spanish land.
- Syrah. Syrah wines are full-bodied and with a high alcohol content.
Red Grapes Varieties
Spain is famed for its red wines. Here are some of the popular red grape varieties.
White Grapes Varieties
Aside from their reds, Spain also features an assortment of white wines. Listed above are some of the white grape varieties grown in this country.
- Verdejo. Wines from this grape have witnessed a demand in the commercial market recently.
- Albariño. Albariño wines are marked by a distinct aroma.
- Godello. Godello grapes produce highly fragrant wines.
- Palomino. Palomino is primarily utilized for Fino production in southern Spain.
- Xareló, Parellada, and Macabeo (or Viura). These are the three grapes used to produce Cava.
- Airen. Airen is considered as one of the most cultivated grape in the world.
Spanish wines have gained an esteemed global reputation for a reason. If you want to know what the fuss is all about, then check out our delectable Spanish red wine above.