The ultimate guide to Spanish wine

No matter what part of the world you’re from, Spanish wine will have graced your table at some point. Whether it’s a Rioja, Merlot or Cava that tickles your fancy,  Spain offers a diverse collection of wines with something for everyone.

However, most of us haven’t explored the wonders of Spanish wine fully. Strangely, our palates haven’t been exposed to the different grapes of Spain as readily as they have been to a French, Italian or even New Zealand wine. This is a little crazy when you consider how dynamic Spain’s offering is - they actually have more area under vine than any other European country! 

So, if you’re ready to start exploring the world of Spanish wine, then take a look at our Ultimate Guide To Spanish Wine below…

Spanish Wine - Quick Facts

  • Spanish Wine was important during the Roman Empire when it supplied the senators of Rome with their favourite tipples.
  • Over 600 varieties of grapes are grown in Spain, with Tempranillo, Airen and Grenache being the most popular.
  • Spain is the number one exporter of wine around the world, which is quite funny considering how little we drink it in the UK when it’s right on our doorstep.
  • The Rioja grape has been in production for nearly a thousand years when monks used to grow it in the monasteries. 
  • Sherry is exclusively Spanish, with the Jerez region having full ownership over the grape. Other countries can produce similar varieties, but only the grape from the Jerez region can be called Sherry.

How To Drink Spanish Wine

  1. Tempranillo 

Tempranillo is one of the most popular grapes in Spain and produces wines that are full of character. The tempranillo offers an intense aroma with fruit and red berries. Ripe fruit and a more subtle oak flavour create a balance on the palate and a sweet but dynamic aftertaste.

If you’re looking for a full-bodied wine that goes brilliantly with everything from steak, to pizza, to meat-based pasta dishes then tempranillo is a safe bet. Serve it at around 20 degrees Celsius to get the most from this delicious Spanish wine.

  1. Cava

Cava is one of the ultimate celebration drinks, that’s sadly had a bit of a lull in the UK due to the rise of other sparkling wines (Prosecco we’re looking at you!). However, Cava is thought to be making a comeback, as it re-brands in the UK as a more premium sparkling wine. In the past, the Spanish wine had gathered a reputation as a cheap and tacky wine, largely due to the price point for the wine being too low.

However, it’s well overdue a comeback on the UK wine scene, especially with the warmer weather approaching. It’s less acidic than champagne and leaves a lovely aftertaste in the mouth that’s full of tropical notes and fruity aromas, leaving you with a crisp and creamy finish. One to watch this summer.

  1. Rioja -White

Spanish Rioja is often thought of as predominantly red wine, however, that’s a misconception, as the white variety is really popular too. White Rioja offers a very clean and aromatic wine, that’s full of fruity aromas with hints of pineapple and bananas.

It’s a perfect pairing to a summer’s day and is absolutely delicious when with grilled white fish. If you want something a bit different to offer your barbeque guests, grilled white fish and white Rioja will go down a treat.

  1. Rioja - Red

The better known of the two, red Rioja is a medium to high-intensity wine with lots of fresh and clean flavours. It’s fruity and full of richness, with a cherry and red berry taste.

It’s a really easy wine to drink and goes well with red meats and cheeses - a great wine to serve whilst you nibble some antipasti.

  1. Rioja Reserva

Rioja has 4 varieties, depending on how long it has aged. Compared to its  French counterpart the burgundy, a nicely aged Rioja is a lot cheaper and equally as delicious.

Reserva Rioja falls between the Crianza - which is one year in bottle - and the traditional Rioja which spends less than a year ageing. The Reserva spend a year in the oak and a couple of years in the bottle, giving it a gorgeous ruby-red colour and a deep and full taste.

Although the flavours are richer, they are perfectly balanced. The fruity cherries, black plums and ripe berries match well with the oak and vanilla flavours, which also offer a delicious aroma. Enjoy this smooth Spanish wine with high protein meats such as fillet steak or pigeon.

  1. Dry sherry

Sherry is uniquely Spanish, so it’s no surprise that a dry sherry from Spain tastes full and rich in texture. It’s blessed with a deep mahogany colour and a highly aromatic scent, which often tempts dinner guests to enjoy it as an after dinner treat.

It’s traditionally used in cooking and gives meat dishes and an extra layer of richness. However, it can also be enjoyed as a dessert wine and tastes amazing with a dark chocolate brownie, or any berry flavoured fruit pudding. If you’re looking for something a little indulgent, then Sherry is the Spanish fortified wine for you.

Why not explore the wines of Spain today, by ordering a bottle or two of something different? Or, if you’re interested in reading more about wine, then take a look at our article on the 5 questions about wine that you’re too embarrassed to ask.