"Wine tasting" Spain Restaurant Tip by DanielF

Spain Restaurants: 272 reviews and 242 photos


Spain is no new comer in the world of oenology. With a perfect environment for wine growing, it is actually the third largest producer in the world. Moreover, the last decades have seen a tremendous development of high quality producing techniques that has translated in excellent local vintages to accompany food anywhere you are in Spain.

The wealth of native grape varieties is amazing, although almost all the production comes from only 20 kinds of grapes, the tempranillo being the most widespread for red wines. Garnacha, airén, palomino, macabeo, xarel?lo and monastrell are some of the other most popular varieties. In recent years, the use of international varieties such as cabernet-saubignon and chardonnay has been increased, both in blends and in varietal forms.

According to the amount of aging the wine has received, Spanish wine is classified into crianza, reserva and gran reserva.

Rioja is the best known Spanish wine region worldwide, but Ribera del Duero has achieved an almost equal reputation and others such as Priorat are on their way to the Olympus of wines. Not to forget are the Sherry, a fortified wine produced in the southern region around Jerez, and Cava, the Spanish version of champagne, produced mainly in Catalonia.

Actually, there are nearly 70 wine producing regions in Spain which have been awarded with a Denominación de Origen (Denomination of Origin), the first ones being the Rioja and the sherry-producing regions back in the early 1930s. Wines produced under a Denomination of Origin must respect stringent regulations about anything involved in the wine producing process, from grape varieties, to yields, irrigation methods, and even pesticides used. Therefore, a wine drinker can expect a wine from a particular D.O. to conform to certain standards.

The best wine-making areas have received a higher category called Denominación de Origen Calificada (Qualified Denomination of Origin): Rioja and Priorat. Ribera del Duero is soon to be awarded that status. The qualified label aspires to guarantee wines that have performed at the highest quality levels over a large number of years.

My tip is not to be too obsessed about denominations of origin: if a wine-maker is not good enough, even conforming by the stringent standards of the label, they can potentially make a bad wine. On the other hand, there are excellent wines with no denomination of origin. Some wineries actually choose to dump the Denomination of Origin in order to experiment new techniques or to mix grape varieties not allowed by their D.O. label.

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Theme: Local

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  • Updated Aug 22, 2008
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