Big and bold Spanish wines are crowd pleasers, delicious with many different pairings, and have a unique history that dates way back!
Facts on Spanish Wine
- Wine was first introduced to the Spanish by the Phoenicians in 800 bc. You read that right 800bc, the Spanish definitely have street cred when it comes to having a rich and long history with wine! Who are the Phoenicians? The people known in history as the Phoenicians occupied a narrow tract of land along the coast of modern Syria, Lebanon and northern Israel.
- Spain has 2.9 millions acres of planted vine land, making it the most widely planted wine producing nation in the world. A bit of a mouthful but an important distinction, Spain is not the largest producer of wine, it's behind Italy and France on this one, but the space in which vines occupy the land is much larger in comparison to other countries - which leads it to the "most widely planted region" title!
- There are over 400 grapes and different varietals that exist and are planted all throughout Spain. The core group which you may be most familiar with includes: Tempranillo, Grenache, Albariño and Rioja.
- Interestingly, Rioja actually refers to the region in Spain not the grape type. This is an important distinction between old world (Spain, Italy, France etc.,) and new world (American) wine. Sometimes old world wine will have the region placed on the bottle label, while new world will primarily have the grape type on the bottle label. For example, Rioja - old world red - labeled by the region. Cabernet Sauvignon - new world red - labeled by the grape type.
- Many people think that Grenache orientated in France however, Spain is where this grape orientated from!
- The Spanish white wine, Airén, is the most planted grape in the world, despite the fact that you've probably never heard of it. This grape is used heavily as a blending grape which may explain it's lack of notoriety.
- Cava is another fun Spanish wine! This sparking wine is made the same way as champagne, in terms of being aged in the bottle. The term cava actually means "underground cellars" where they age this varietal. If you find an aged cava in stores, it won't be quite as expensive as aged champagne but will still have the same high end gorgeous flavor profiles! If you need a refresh on the aging process of champagne and prosecco we did a whole blog post all about bubbles!
Spanish Wine Rating System
Unique to Spanish Wine is their rating system! They have 3 different levels that oftentimes correlates to price, but is most related to the aging process. Crianaza , Reservera, and Gran Reserva are the 3 levels within the Spanish wine rating system, you will see below the differences in aging at each level for reds and whites/rosés.
- Rioja red wine aging: 1 year in an oak barrel
- White and rosé aging: 6 months in an oak barrel
- Rioja red wine aging: 3 years aging at least 1 in an oak barrel
- White and rosé aging: 2 years aging at least 6 months in an oak barrel
- Rioja red wine aging: 5 years aging at least 2 in an oak barrel and 3 in the bottle
- White and rosé aging: 4 years aging at least 6 months in an oak barrel
Pairing Spanish Reds
As we've said before, for us it's all about the food, always. For Spanish reds, like Tempranillo, charcuterie boards with a heavy dose of meat, paellas, and other rich meat dishes are a delish pairing. For Spanish whites, like the Albariño, seafood dishes are superb. "Wine is made as sauce for food" and in this case a Spanish wine is the sauce you want to bring out the rich flavors in some delish pairings!!
Wander + Ivy Spanish Red Blend
We don't like to choose favorites BUT our Red Blend may just be (one of) our favorite varietals. It is near and dear to the Wander + Ivy team because it's one of our OG varietals, plus it's a delicious crowd pleaser. It's unique in that it has a classic merlot grape (45%) that most people are familiar with, and is blended with the unique, less common bobal grape (55%). The bobal gives the glass a spice and chocolatey flavor that ends with a nice dry finish. Our Red Blend pairs perfectly with a big meat dish, hearty pasta, or even pizza! The Spanish bull on the front of the bottle is super serious but quickly flip over the bottle and he's a little tipsy! Are you ready for a glass of Spanish Red Blend? We definitely are.
Shop all Wander + Ivy wines, including our Spanish Red Blend on our online wine shop.