Our Spanish Wine Guide


Discovering the sensational World of Spanish Wine and Food

Welcome to our Spanish Wine Guide

Spanish wines are often seen as offering excellent value for money, providing consumers with high-quality options at affordable prices. This has helped Spain establish itself as one of the top wine-producing countries in the world. 

The country’s unique climate, varied terroir, and traditional winemaking techniques have all contributed to the development of distinct and exceptional wines. Whether you are a seasoned oenophile or just beginning your exploration into the world of wine, Spanish wines have something for everyone.

With a long and fascinating history that dates back thousands of years, the origins of winemaking in Spain can be traced back to the Phoenicians, who introduced vine cultivation to the Iberian Peninsula around 1100 BC.  The Romans played a significant role in expanding vineyard cultivation and improving winemaking techniques, while the Moors introduced new grape varieties and irrigation systems.

During the Middle Ages, Spanish wine production flourished under the influence of Christian monastic orders. These orders established vineyards and perfected winemaking methods, leading to the creation of renowned wines such as Rioja and Ribera del Duero.

In more recent times, Spanish wine experienced a period of decline due to phylloxera infestation in the late 19th century. However, it made a remarkable recovery in the 20th century with advancements in viticulture and winemaking technology.

Today, Spain is one of the largest producers of wine in the world and boasts an impressive array of grape varieties and styles. From crisp white wines like Albariño from Galicia to robust reds like Tempranillo from Rioja or Garnacha from Priorat, Spanish wines offer a diverse range of flavours that reflect its unique terroir.

Key Spanish Wine Regions

Below is a mention of the most important regions in current wine making trends.

From the rolling vineyards of Rioja to the sun-drenched landscapes of Andalusia, Spain is home to a multitude of wine regions that produce some of the finest wines in the world.

One of the most well-known regions is Rioja, located in northern Spain. Rioja wines are famous for their exceptional quality and aging potential. The region’s continental climate and diverse soil types create the perfect conditions for growing Tempranillo, the predominant grape variety in Rioja.

Moving towards Catalonia, we find the Penedès region, known for its production of Cava, a sparkling wine made using traditional methods. Penedès benefits from a Mediterranean climate and has become synonymous with high-quality sparkling wines that rival those from Champagne.

In Galicia, located in northwest Spain, we discover the Rías Baixas region. This coastal area is famous for its white wines made from Albariño grapes. The cool maritime climate influences these wines’ refreshing acidity and vibrant fruit flavours.

Heading south to Andalusia, we encounter the Sherry-producing region of Jerez de la Frontera. Sherry is a fortified wine that comes in various styles ranging from dry to sweet. The unique aging process under a layer of yeast called “flor” imparts distinctive nutty flavours to these fortified wines.

Moving eastward to Valencia and Alicante, we find regions known for producing bold reds made primarily from Monastrell grapes. These warm Mediterranean areas provide ideal conditions for cultivating this robust grape variety.

Lastly, in Castilla y León lies Ribera del Duero – home to some of Spain’s most prestigious red wines made predominantly from Tinto Fino (Tempranillo) grapes. The extreme temperature fluctuations between day and night contribute to concentrated flavours and structured tannins in these exceptional wines.

These diverse Spanish wine regions each offer their own unique contributions to the world of wine. From the classic elegance of Rioja to the effervescence of Cava and the fortified delights of Sherry, Spain’s wine excellence is truly showcased in its diverse regions.

Sherry

For a full overview of Spanish Wine Regions, please visit our website here;:

Sherry, a fortified wine hailing from the region of Jerez in Spain, offers a wide range of styles to suit various palates and occasions. The different styles of sherry can vary significantly in terms of their production methods, aging processes, and flavour profiles. These different styles offer an array of options for sherry enthusiasts or those looking to explore this unique wine category, especially when it comes to sherry and food matching. Whether you prefer dry or sweet varieties or something in between, there is a sherry style to suit every taste preference.

Please visit our Sherry Guide for more details on Sherry styles and food matches where we

These different styles offer an array of options for sherry enthusiasts or those looking to explore this unique wine category. Whether you prefer dry or sweet varieties or something in between, there is a sherry style to suit every taste preference.

Here are some top tips for pairing wine with tapas:

Grape Varieties

Indigenous Grape Varieties

Spanish wine culture is rich and diverse, with a wide variety of indigenous grape varieties that contribute to its unique characterOne of the most iconic indigenous grape varieties in Spain is Tempranillo. This red grape is widely cultivated throughout the country and forms the backbone of renowned Spanish wines such as Rioja and Ribera del Duero. Known for its versatility, Tempranillo produces wines that range from light and fruity to bold and full-bodied.

Another prominent variety is Garnacha (also known as Grenache). This red grape thrives in hot and dry climates, making it well-suited for regions like Priorat and Navarra. Garnacha wines are characterized by their intense fruit flavours, high alcohol content, and smooth tannins.

Verdejo is a white grape variety native to the Rueda region in central Spain. It produces crisp and aromatic white wines with notes of citrus, tropical fruits, and a distinctive herbaceous quality. Verdejo wines are often enjoyed young but can also age gracefully.

Albariño is another noteworthy white grape variety that hails from the coastal region of Galicia in northwest Spain. It produces refreshing white wines with vibrant acidity, delicate floral aromas, and flavours of stone fruits like peach or apricot. Albariño has gained international recognition for its quality and pairs exceptionally well with seafood dishes.

Garnacha Blanca (White Grenache) deserves mention as an indigenous white grape variety that contributes to Spanish wine culture. This aromatic grape produces elegant white wines with floral aromas, citrus notes, and a pleasant minerality.

Last but not least, Godello, is a very versatile white grape variety that has captivated wine lovers worldwide.

Primarily found in northwest Spain and northern Portugal, the grape is capable of producing very fine white wines. Originally hailing from the picturesque Galicia region in northwestern Spain, Godello is now cultivated in various other regions including Bierzo, Valdeorras, and Monterrei. and it is in the Valdeorras region that its greatest successes are seen, leading to a steady increase in plantings there.  Expect to be enchanted by Godello’s delightful citrus notes such as lemon and grapefruit, accompanied by delicate floral aromas like honeysuckle and chamomile. The wines also showcase mineral undertones that reflect the terroir where they are grown. It can be crafted into different styles, from youthful and unoaked to more complex versions aged in oak barrels. This

In Jancis Robinson MW  “Godello combines the structure of white burgundy with the finesse of a juicily mineral grape”.

International Grape Varieties

While Spain is known for its indigenous grape varieties like Tempranillo and Garnacha, it also embraces international varieties that have made a mark in the country’s wine production.

Among the top international varieties that define Spanish are Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz (also known as Syrah), Merlot, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc. These grapes have found their place in various Spanish wine regions, each showcasing their own distinct characteristics.

Cabernet Sauvignon is grown in regions such as Penedès and Priorat in Catalonia, producing full-bodied red wines with rich tannins and dark fruit flavours. Shiraz/Syrah thrives in regions like Priorat and Montsant, where it contributes to bold and spicy red wines.

Merlot finds its home primarily in Catalonia’s Penedès region, contributing to smooth and velvety red wines with ripe fruit flavours. Chardonnay is widely planted throughout Spain but particularly shines in regions such as Rías Baixas in Galicia and Penedès in Catalonia. These areas produce refreshing white wines with notes of citrus fruits and a crisp acidity.

Sauvignon Blanc has gained popularity in regions like Rueda and Somontano, where it produces aromatic white wines with vibrant acidity and tropical fruit flavours.

By embracing these international grape varieties alongside their native counterparts, Spanish winemakers have expanded the diversity of their offerings while maintaining a strong connection to traditional winemaking practices. This blend of old-world charm with new-world influences as made Spanish wines being adored by enthusiasts around the globe.

Spanish Wine and Food

When it comes to pairing Spanish wines with food, there are a few tips that can help you create an exquisite culinary experience. Spanish cuisine is known for its bold flavours and diverse ingredients, and finding the right wine to complement these dishes can enhance your dining experience.

One popular pairing is tapas and wine. Tapas are small, tasty dishes that are perfect for sharing, and they can be paired with a variety of Spanish wines. For example, a Rioja wine pairs well with traditional tapas such as patatas bravas or chorizo. The earthy notes of the Rioja wine complement the rich flavours of these dishes.

Seafood is another staple in Spanish cuisine, and one wine that pairs beautifully with seafood dishes is Albariño. This crisp white wine from the Galicia region has refreshing acidity and citrus notes that complement the delicate flavours of seafood. Much like a good classic Chablis, Albariño  pairs well with fresh oysters, The best match for the famous octopus, is probably the Godello, with enough body and acidity to counter the strong flavours.

When it comes to pairing Spanish wines with food, it’s important to consider the regional specialties and flavours. Experimenting with different combinations can lead to delightful discoveries and elevate your dining experience to new heights.

Spanish Wine Guide Wine and Food matching Tips

1. Consider the style of wine:  Sherry comes in various styles such as Fino, Manzanilla, Amontillado, Oloroso, and Pedro Ximenez. Each style has its own distinct characteristics and flavours. For lighter tapas like seafood or cheese-based dishes, Fino or Manzanilla sherries work well. For richer and meatier tapas like cured meats or stews, Amontillado or Oloroso sherries are great choices.

2. Match intensity: When pairing wine with tapas, it’s important to consider the intensity of both the food and the wine. Lighter wines pair well with delicate tapas such as marinated olives or grilled vegetables. On the other hand, fuller-bodied styles like  Rioja and Ribera Del Douro can stand up to stronger flavours like spicy chorizo or braised pork.

3. Complement flavours: Look for complementary flavours between the wine and food ingredients. For example, a dry Fino sherry can enhance the briny notes of anchovies or salted almonds. A sweet Pedro Ximenez sherry can bring out the richness of chocolate-based desserts or caramelized onions in a savory dish.

4. Experiment with contrasts: While complementary flavours work well in pairings, don’t be afraid to experiment with contrasting elements too. The acidity and body of a godello can provide a refreshing contrast to rich fried foods like croquettes or calamari.

5. Serve at the right temperature: All wine is best enjoyed when served at the appropriate temperature. Generally, Fino and Manzanilla and whites that have been fermented in stainless steel are served chilled, while fuller bodied whites and reds are served slightly cooler than room temperature. This helps to bring out the flavours and aromas of the sherry when paired with tapas.

By following these tips, you can create a memorable culinary experience, whether hosting a dinner party or simply enjoying a meal at home

Spanish wine continues to captivate wine enthusiasts around the world with its timeless appeal and rich history. From the renowned regions of Rioja and Ribera del Duero to the lesser-known gems like Priorat and Rías Baixas, Spain offers a diverse range of wines that cater to every palate.

The global impact of Spanish wine cannot be understated. With its extensive vineyard acreage and production, Spain consistently ranks among the top three wine-producing countries in the world. Its wines are exported to over 170 countries, making it a significant player in the global wine market.

Spanish winemakers have embraced modern techniques while staying true to their traditional winemaking practices, resulting in high-quality wines that showcase both innovation and heritage. The use of indigenous grape varieties such as Tempranillo, Garnacha, and Albariño adds a unique character to Spanish wines that sets them apart from their international counterparts.

Furthermore, Spain’s commitment to innovation, sustainability as well as organic and biodynamic farming practices has gained recognition worldwide..  Many Spanish wineries are dedicated to preserving their land and producing wines that reflect their terroir while minimizing environmental impact. This approach not only benefits the environment but also enhances the overall quality  and uniqueness of the wines produced.

Spanish wine’s timeless appeal lies not only in its exceptional quality but also in its ability to adapt and evolve with changing consumer preferences. As consumers continue to appreciate the diversity and authenticity offered by Spanish wines, their global impact will only continue to grow.

This diversity allows for an exciting array of flavours, ensuring that there is something for every palate.  Whether you are a seasoned oenophile or just beginning your journey into the world of wine, exploring the wonders of Spanish wine is an experience not to be missed.

In conclusion, with its commitment to quality, innovation, sustainability, diversity in terroir, and growing international recognition; the future looks bright for Spanish wine. As we move forward into an era where consumers seek authenticity and value in their choices; Spanish winemakers are well-positioned to captivate wine enthusiasts and continue to make their mark in the global wine industry.

20 Top Spanish Producers

Visit James Suckling’s article below for a detailed list of the top 100 Spanish Producers

Spanish Wine Guide: 12 of our favourite Spanish Producers:

  1. Bodega Muga, Rioja
  2. Bodegas Marques de Marietta, Rioja
  3. Bodegas Roda, Rioja
  4. Gramona Cava, Penedes
  5. Família Oliveda, Cava Penedes
  6. Thelmo Rodrigues
  7. Vega Sicilia Ribera Del Duero
  8. Lustau Jerez
  9. Dominio De Pingus Ribera Del Duero
  10. Gonzalez Byass Jerez Años
  11. Descendientes De J. Palacios Bierzo
  12. Torres Penedès

We hope you enjoyed this short Spanish Wine Guide. Why not Book on our Spanish Wine and Tapas Masterclass and come and taste the Spanish revolution for yourself!

Choosing the right wine glass…

Have you ever noticed that wine glasses are NOT a standard size or shape? Is there a reason for this – and is it just about the way they look or does the shape of a wine glass actually affect the flavour of the wine?

There are three parts to every wine glass;

  • The base – this part is needed to keep the wine glass standing!
  • The stem – this is the part you hold which connects the base and the bowl.
  • The bowl – this is the part that holds the wine.

When filling a wine glass, always aim to fill the glass around one third, or to where the bowl is at its widest to maximise the wine’s contact with the air. You need enough space left in the glass to collect those vital aromas! Essentially, although all of the above parts may vary, it’s the size and shape of the bowl that makes all the difference.

Smell is crucially important in how we appreciate wine. Our nasal passages can detect many thousands of different flavours and this is why a wine’s nose is a critical part of our perception. If the aromas have dissipated, the taste of the wine loses much of its intensity. Fresh and zesty white wines suit glasses with smaller bowls to concentrate the delicate aromas, while full-bodied wines need a larger bowl to allow the more complex aromas to shine through.

RIEDEL are one of the most well known wine glass designers (they created the “Montrachet” glass, which better emphasises a creamy texture because of the wider mouth) and they have acquired some scientific explanations as to why the shape of a glass influences the bouquet and taste of alcoholic beverages.

“The first discovery was made while enjoying wine. The same wine displayed completely differently characteristics when served in a variety of glasses. The differences were so great that experienced connoisseurs were made to believe that they were tasting different wines”.

(REIDEL)

RIEDEL were then able to create glass shapes in which the wine, vinified from specific grape varieties, seemed to improve!

The main obvious difference you may have noticed (aside from the slim flute of a champagne glass!) is between red and white wine glasses. The bowls of white wine glasses tend to be smaller in shape because the aromas are lighter – they can also maintain a cooler temperature and preserve floral aromas. However, different types of red and white wine still have their own glasses.

Pinot Noir glasses for example, have a large bowl that is one of the widest of any wine glass while Syrah or Shiraz glasses are smaller than most red wine glasses. The choice of which red wine glass to use is all to do with mitigating the bitterness of tannin or spicy flavours to deliver a smoother tasting wine. A standard wine glass is perfect for medium to full-bodied red wines, with spicy notes and/or high alcohol.

Depending on what you drink the most, you may also want to invest in some speciality wine glasses such as Port glasses, which have a small size and narrow mouth to reduce evaporation (as it’s a high alcohol wine).

Finally – what the wine glass is made of also matters! Leaded or lead-free crystal is the best, giving a sparkle and an elegant feel. The glass should however not be frosted or coloured and you should clearly be able to see the wine through the glass inside.

If you’d like more information about any of the wine courses or events The London Wine Academy offer, please do get in touch – we’d love to hear from you and answer any questions you may have (including those about wine glasses!)

Warming Winter Whites

A contradiction in terms “ a warming winter white ” may be, except I don’t know about you, but I’ve had it with Sauvignon Blanc. Maybe it’s the time of year, the chill in the air or the change of menu. It’s just not cutting it for me. It could it be boredom with the linear taste profile; the firm acidity or the gooseberry tartness but there is just nothing that appeals in the flavour anymore.

Continue reading “Warming Winter Whites”

Wine and Cheese – A marriage of two heavens

Most of us love wine and cheese at the end of a meal and for those who do not have a palate equipped for desserts, can be a welcome end to a dinner party rather than something sticky and cloyingly sweet. The big question is – what wine should we drink with which type of cheese and are there any guidelines to pairing the two together?

Continue reading “Wine and Cheese – A marriage of two heavens”