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Spanish Wines

Spain is the third largest wine producer in the world, after France and Italy, but the first in wine plantation; more, the Spanish people are the ninth in wine consumption worldwide. 20 types of grape varieties assure 80% of the Spanish wine production, but other 550 grape varieties are still cultivated in Spain, Spanish wines remain, whatever the facts, one of the world’s most favorite wines ever, with a long history which goes back 6,000 years ago.


When Spain was conquered by the Roman Empire and became Hispania, the Spanish wine begun gaining more and more popularity, being spread out throughout the whole Roman Empire.
After the fall of the Roman empire, followed by the invasion of numerous barbaric tribes, little things related to Spanish viticulture are known, being only related to the Moors conquest, where Moorish rulers still permitted some wine making. It was the Spanish Reconquista who brought back to life the Spanish wine, making possible its exporting towards large English wine markets, and then in time in the whole world.

The Spanish history certified some wine varieties, like the Sherry, Malaga, and Rioja. Many regions became famous for their wine production, like Navarre, Rioja and Catalonia, which was actually the place where Spain’s sparkling wine industry emerged first. By the 20th century, following the French examples, Spain created its own national appellation system, called Denominación de Origen (DO), under the dictatorship of Miguel Primo de Rivera.

As in many other countries, the Second World War put on hold the country’s economy, following the Spanish Civil War, which already had destroyed many national wineries. Starting with 1950, the Spanish wine gently recovered its fame, first by Sauternes, then by Chablis, both Spanish reinterpretations of already existing French wines.

Slowly, more Spanish wine emerged, like the Sherry, and other grape varieties begun being cultivated around Spain, like the Chardonnay or the Cabernet Sauvignon.

When it comes to the classification of Spanish wines, this follows in principle the French rules of Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) system.

To the already existent Denominación de Origen, a new category was created, referring to those DO”s which have a record of quality, and these wines can be found in only two of Spain’s regions: Rioja and Priorat. After being accepted in EU, Spain changed its classification system, adapting it to the European rules and developed a new classification system which includes:

  • Vino di Mesa – the equivalent of a Table wine, made from unclassified vineyards
  • Vinos de la Tierra – a country wine which indicates, besides the country of the production, also the geographic designation of origin
  • Vino de Calidad Producido en Región Determinada – very close to the DO, this category refers both to the quality and the region of the wine production
  • Denominación de Origen – refers to a mainstream quality wine, and it cover 2/3 of the total vineyard cultivation
  • Denominación de Origen Calificada – certifies that a region has a track record of quality; there are only 3 Spanish regions benefitting from the DOC standard, Rioja, Priorat and Ribera del Duero.

  • It is estimated that 600 grape varieties are cultivated throughout Spanish territories, form which 20 grape varieties cover 80% of the total Spanish production. The most popular Spanish grape is Airen, which is also the base for the Spanish brandy.

    Airen is followed by the second most popular grape, called Tempranillo, associated with Rioja, and flowed by the third best grape, Garnacha, the main grape in Priorat region. One of the most popular wines in Spain is Sherry, produced in Southern Spain, a fortified wine which ages in barrels and takes its unique taste from the flor, natural regional yeast.

    Cava is another great Spanish wine, a sparkling one, made following the French Champagne’s recipe. The term “cava” means “cellar” in Spanish, and it’s the official name of this wine since 1970, referring to the cellars built in the underground, where this wine ages and ferments in bottles.

    Each Spanish region is famous for its wines:

  • Toro – using a mutation of Tempranillo, it produces very powerful red wines
  • Rioja – one of the best-known regions related to wine production, is famous for its thick, fruity and powerful red wines
  • Riberiro – famous for its white wines, filled with accents of orange blossom
  • Valencia – is the home-region of Moscatel de Valencia, a sweet white wine
  • Navarre – home of rosada, also known as rosé wine
  • Asturias – famous both for its cider and its sparkling wines



  • Tags: spanish wines, wine tasting, red wine, wine cellar, sweet wine, wine, sparkling wine, wine bottle, best wine, spanish wine


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