Spanish Wine and its History

Wine is at the heart and soul of every Spanish province, with a deep rooted wine-making culture that is steeped in nothing less than passion and dedication  – Spanish wine is as loved in Spain as Spain itself.

Make no mistake about it, Spaniards are very proud of their wine and rightfully so.

Each region in Spain has their own claim to fame whether it is the famed red wine from La Rioja or the classic Sherry from Jerez de la Frontera or Cava from Cataluña.

You really cannot go wrong with Spanish wine and you definitely can’t visit Spain without sampling a glass of vino tinto (red wine). Spanish wine is the perfect companion to all Spanish meals and tasty tapas including famous Spanish jamon.

Spain´s wine making tradition dates back centuries, continually perfecting the spanish wine making process into an art, made with the same love of life that all Spaniards have.

Spanish wine regions follow a similar grading classification as France

Spain is the third largest wine producing country in the world. It follows a similar wine classification as France, known in Spain as Denominacion de Origen (DO).

Spanish Wine must meet specific requirements including geographic areas where the grapes must be grown and the wines made, grape varieties permitted in that area, vineyard practices, maximum yield, minimum alcohol content and winemaking process.

There are now close to 40 different DO regions for Spanish wine

The first DO area was Rioja in 1926 and now there are close to 40 DO regions in Spain. Each DO has its own governing body that implements the standards of the wine produced in that region – Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva.
In the 19th Century, France was the leader in viticulture and wine production, but due to an outbreak of the Phylloxera Pest, Frances vineyards were virtually destroyed.

Thus, in the 1850´s- 60´s there was a massive migration to the nearby Spanish territory of La Rioja .

French wine makers brought with them age old wine making techniques and helped spark the first great wine boom in Spanish history after which Spanish wine was exported all over the world.

Spain has a remarkably diverse terrain, from rainy mountain regions, coastal regions and dry arid regions, each giving a distinct flavour and body to the wine and grape production of the area. The region that receives the most attention for its red wine La Rioja, following closely behind are the reds from Ribera del Duero, Rias Baixas and Priorato.

The spanish wine production in the La Rioja is massive, distributing their distinctive and well-aged reds made from the Tempranillo grape worldwide. Less recognized, but of equal quality is the viscous and acidic whites made from the Viura grape (also known as the Macabeo) in the La Rioja area.

a leading spanish wine is from the region "Ribera del Duero"

Ribera del Duero also produces rich and hearty red wine in massive quantity and exports throughout the world.

You can truly find outstanding white wines like the Albarino, from the Rias Baixas region and Parallada, from the Penedes. Also, in these areas can be found Spains lovely version of champagne, Cava.

The most notable wine of the South is Spanish Sherry, produced in the chalky white soil of Jerez de la Frontera.

The Spanish tradition and necessity of aging both red and white wines for an unusually long period of time (a twenty-five year aging period was not uncommon) has always been debated.

While today´s Spanish wines are aged less than their predecessors, a long aging process is still par for the course.

Supporters of the practice argue that the Tempranillo grape, like pinot Noir, needs a good deal of time to develop the earthy complexities it is capable of.

Within recent years Spain has developed an appreciation and understanding for younger spanish wine that still carry the spirit of its distinctive traditions of Long Oak Aging.

The young spanish wine, called Tinto Joven is unaged wine which produces the freshest and most fruity qualities.

Reserva is the Spanish term referring to quality wine from a good vintage and generally must be aged for a minimum of three years with at least 1 year in oak barrels.

Rose and white reservas require a minimum of 2 years with no less than 6 months in oak. Gran Reserva is the name given to wine which has been aged for a minimum of three years in oak barrels and bottles.

The Spaniards have mastered the art of blending of grapes to bring more character from the land into each wine. For example, the Tempranillo-Cabernet blends, can be quite remarkable. The style of the simple Tempranillo grape wine is quite delicate and subtle. The popular crianza involves allowing in a certain amount of oxygen from the oak barrels, which helps the wine to develop and be perfumed with spicy aromas. The aging of spanish wine in the bottle is important as well in order to achieve its full roundness.

If you are travelling through Spain, you will have the opportunity to sample many varieties of wine from each region. It is worth sampling a few spanish wine s and not just sticking with the more popular, you may be surprised to find a nice wine in a place that gets no recognition as a DO region.

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