If you’re a fan of Pablo Picasso, you have probably seen Spain’s wines and vineyards cast as his muse in several famous paintings.
Indeed, wine in Spain has a rich history that spans a thousand years of evolution. Today, it is the leading exporter of the drink in the world, and the third-largest producer overall. As such, Spain offers one of the most diverse ranges of choices in wines of any country on earth. This also means that choosing one can be nightmarish due to the myriad types of grapes, places of origin, and several classifications available.
To make the job easier, this article lists 5 of the very best Spanish table wines that you can try from the European nation. But first, a little more on what makes Spanish table wines be so special.
Why is Spanish Wine So Popular?
Spanish wine has the unique distinction of being mentioned in the works of several famous thinkers from Ancient Rome. The historian Pliny, and the author Ovid, both exalted wines from different regions of the country. Having enjoyed a long history of renown, Spanish wine saw a 70-year period of depression under Francisco Franco in the 20th century, but following his death, it quickly became the industry it is today.
Wine producers today have made good use of Spain’s regional diversity, which has resulted in a whopping 78 sub-regions and 400 different types of grapes for wine. That’s a lot of grapes if you ask us… Differing weather patterns and varying production techniques contributed to the massive variety of wines Spain offers. Check out “How Long Does it Take to Make Wine?” to get a feel on how long it takes to produce Spanish wine.
One special trait of Spanish wine, besides its quality, is that specific appellations are pre-aged, some for almost a decade. Spain employs a rigid classification system for its wine. These categories are based on either the place of origin or for how long it has been aged.
It has also been claimed that Spanish wine in the United States is at a quality that’s far less than it is worth. The bottles of equivalent quality from Italy or France, its two biggest competitors, fetch much more. This is partly because wines from these countries are simply marketed better than Spanish wines, a shame given their arguably superior quality.
Okay, which are the Best Spanish Table Wines That I Can Buy?
The Historical Riojas Wine
Remember we mentioned that Spanish wine has a thousand-year history? Rioja was one of the places producing it back then. Located in north-central Spain, Rioja is one of only two Spanish provinces that has earned the top wine classification of DOCa (Denominaćion de Origen Calificada). Wines from here usually blend its signature grape, the Tempranillo, with four others for a diverse blend. Many Rioja winemakers use French oak to age the wine, which lends it a vanilla and baking spice flavor.
Given that Rioja is a province, it produces several different varieties of wine, but if you want to pick one, the La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904 is a good choice. Gran Reserva refers to the aging period classification, which spanned approximately five years.
Care to read more about these signature grapes and which grapes are the best for wine-making? Click on “Best Grapes for Making Wine” to know more.
The Famous Priorat Wine
Priorat is the second province, after La Rioja, to earn the DOCa classification. Both provinces are famous for producing fruity, earthy red wines more than white wines. However, Priorat wines tend to be quite expensive, due to low supply, but the quality ensures that it is worth the tag. The primary grape used in Priorat red wines is the Garnacha, combined with a few others. Along with fruits and earthiness, expect some herbs, berries, and a smoky texture.
One particular Priorat worth trying is the Clos Erasmus Laurel Priorat. This wine retails at around $45 USD and contains flavors like blackberry and violets. Also, if you’re looking for something to snack on while drinking this delicious Priorat wine, grab yourself a selection of olives. We highly recommend this, as it compliments your wine nicely!
Cava Sparkling Wines
Cava (pronounced kaa-vuh) is a sparkling wine made from several white grapes. Most Cava is produced in the Catalonian region of the country. It is the Spanish equivalent of Champagne, though much less expensive, and possibly better! Cava is mainly made of Macabéo, a grape that lends a taste of lemons and almonds, along with a floral scent to the wine. It is also available in both, white and rosé variants.
A popular, and very affordable, brand of Cava is the Codorniu Brut Cava, which retails only at around $11 USD a pop!
Flavorful Ribera del Duero Wines
Like Riojas, red wines from Ribera del Duero are primarily produced using Tempranillo grapes. This is one type of wine that is not usually blended, instead, comprising entirely of Tempranillo. They are also aged using French oak, giving them flavors of vanilla, cinnamon, and cloves. Wines from this province are generally dry and taste heavily of tannins and berries. They are much more polished and silkier than Riojas, which are generally earthier in taste.
The best wine to try from this province is the Vega Sicilia Unico Gran Reserva, which is one of the most popular wines from Spain.
Famous Sherry Wines
Spain has been exporting Sherry to the world since the 12th century. An all-time classic world-wide, Spanish sherry has some unique qualities not found in namesakes from other countries. It is produced in Andalucia and can be either very dry or very sweet. Sherry is brewed using a special process called ‘solera’ that helps it retains the taste from the various stages of aging. By the way, great pairings for Sherry wines include olives and even anchovies, who’s daring?
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Spanish table wines are some of the finest drinks available anywhere in the world! In the US, they are often sold for prices far lower than what they are actually worth due to poor marketing by Spanish producers. However, do not let this discourage you from trying out a bottle, aided by our list of the very best Spanish wines you can get your hands on.
Which Spanish table wine are you going to choose and try for yourself? Personally, the Flavorful Ribera del Duero Wines sounds intriguing! There’s something about the silky texture that we want to experience for ourselves. Leave a comment below letting us know which wine you end up getting.
Also if you’re just starting to get a taste for different kinds of wines, then be sure to read “The Most Popular Sweet Wines“, “Best Wine for Beginners“, or “Beginner Wines that You Need to Try” to get a feel for your wine palate.
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