Wines of Spain
We’ve organized a little information to get you off on the right path, starting with a quick review on “interpreting” the Spanish wine label.
A good label will include the following: The name of the wine, the winery, its D.O. (dominación de orígin), and vintage. If you’re luck they’ll mention the name of the grape and how long the wine was aged.Example of Label
D.O. (dominación de orígin)
What’s a D.O.and why is it so important? It’s like a seal of quality control that lets you (wine enthusiast) know the wine was produced under certain standards. For example, the wineries in a particular D.O. must make wine based on the grapes that are considered appropriate for the region. Also, the time required for a wine to age in a barrel has a minimum to be considered a “Crianza.” Each D.O. specifies how long a wine must age in a barrel to be a Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva.
What’s so important about the year? Well, the weather that year will affect the quality of the harvested grapes in the particular D.O. So if it was a rainy year in Rioja the grapes just might not have the ripeness to become one of those classic Riojas we expect. On the other hand, if it was a scorcher that year maybe those grapes will be set aside for raisins. So, balance and harmony with Mother Nature is key to an excellent vintage. The ratings for a vintage (good, very good, excellent) are based on what the regulatory counsel of the D.O. agrees upon.Vintage Chart
An indication the wine was aged or not should be reflected in the following manner: Tinto Joven (does not see any oak), Roble (sees some oak but not enough to be considered a Crianza), Crianza and Reserva age 12 – 24 months respectfully, and a Gran Reserva must come from an excellent vintage year and follow the Reserva requirements.
And finally, those wonderful grapes that make such a variety of wines. From a light crisp aromatic white to a full-bodied spicy red there’s a wine for everyone thanks to the diversity of Spain’s “terroir” and its indigenous grapes. Below you’ll find an abbreviated list of grapes and where they are usually harvested.
Pairings — Food and Wine at a Glance
What’s a great glass of wine without a matching dish to go with it? The right combination will bring out the best of both either through similarities in textures and flavors such as a bold spicy Priorat and a scrumptious pepper steak. Or you can contrast the two by combining a tangy and zesty Rueda with some hot and spicy Thai food.
So, you’re in the mood for a Spanish wine but don’t know where to start? We’ve prepared the following chart to assist you with your dilemma. Albeit a rather generalization of the world of wine, this should get you started on the right path.
Here are some basic questions when selecting a Spanish wine:
- How would you describe the wine you normally like?
- What wine producing regions normally makes a wine in that style?
- What Spanish grape produces this style of wine and which DO in Spain produces it?
- What goes well with this wine?
Snap Shot < < < Spanish Food & Wine Pairing (pdf file)
Wine and Cheese Pairings:June Pairings << PDF document July Pairings << PDF document
Vino and Tapas Pairings
How about a 4-course meal of tapas with a great wine for each course?Vino and Tapas < < < One of our favorite meals. (pdf file)