The 5 Best Spanish Wines Revealed
When someone mentions European wine, you likely think of your favorite French or Italian varietals. But did you know that Spain has more land devoted to vineyards than any other country in the world? They also have some of the oldest grapevines on the planet. Because old vines have deeper roots, they produce less fruit, but the fruit they do produce contains more intense concentrated flavors.
If you haven’t tried Spanish wine, you’ll be delighted to discover that it’s some of the most delicious and surprisingly affordable wine around.
The Best Spanish Red Wines
Tempranillo wine is a dry, full-bodied red wine produced from the black Tempranillo grape. Its name is derived from the word “temprano,” which means “early” in Spanish. This refers to the Tempranillo grapes ripening weeks earlier than other red grapes grown in the region. It is known as Spain’s noble grape.
Tempranillo makes up to 90% of red blends, usually combined with Grenache, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. It features tasting notes of cherry, dried fig, cedar, and tobacco. Young Tempranillo (aged less than one year) is spicy and tart, whereas the flavors of aged Tempranillo (aged several years in oak) are less spicy with a sweet and dry flavor profile.
One of Spain’s most widely planted red grapes, Garnacha, boasts flavors of juicy, ripe strawberries and raspberries, along with zesty notes of cinnamon.
Garnacha wine can be dry, semi-sweet, or sweet, depending on the vintage with which it’s blended. It is frequently combined with Syrah and Mourvèdre to create the classic Southern Rhone blend. It can also be found as a single varietal wine.
Garnacha is mid-level acidic and tannic but high in alcohol. It contains around 13.5-16% alcohol by volume (ABV), while a standard glass of wine in the U.S. contains 12% ABV.
The Best Spanish White Wines
Albariño grapes grow almost exclusively on the Iberian Peninsula using a pergola trellising system for even ripening and increased airflow. Albariño wine is beautifully aromatic, containing heady citrus notes with a flavor profile of peach and apricots. Because the grapes are grown near the Atlantic Ocean, you might also detect a salty, seashell aroma.
Albariño is light, dry, tart, and highly acidic. It pairs wonderfully with white fish, meats, and seafood such as oysters, mussels, or clams.
Garnacha Blanca is a rich, creamy white wine often aged in oak barrels, not unlike Chardonnay. Unoaked varieties are crisper and more acidic.
Garnacha Bianca is a deep blonde color with aromas of pineapples, pears, peaches, and lemons. Additionally, you’ll detect notes of vanilla and cinnamon along with a slight mineral flavor. Oak-aged Garnacha Blanca is a full-bodied wine that is mildly acidic and high in alcohol.
The Best Spanish Sparkling Wine
Cava is derived from Macabeu, Parellada, and Xarello grapes and is Spain’s most popular sparkling wine. Together, the three grapes create a dry and fruity sparkling wine not unlike Champagne. In fact, vintners use the same process to create Cava as they do Champagne, in which the secondary fermentation happens in the bottle.
A glass of chilled Cava delivers balanced citrus notes along with melon and pear. Cava can be paired with tapas and sushi and cheeses, fried fish, prosciutto, and serrano ham.
The next time you’re on an expedition to find a new wine, why not try Spain? With a wide range of flavors and complexities, you may just discover one or two new favorites. Salud!
Featured Photo by photo nic on Unsplash