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Guide to Spanish Wine

(Wine Types, Tasting Notes, Food Pairings)

March 2023 – The Spanish Radish Blog

Spanish wine glass half full of wine

Spanish wines are loved by wine enthusiasts all around the world, and it’s fair to say we have an ongoing love affair with them. Since there are so many different types and flavors, you’ll find more than one to pair with any cuisine or dish, making them super versatile. 

In this guide, we’ll explore the most popular types of Spanish wines, their tasting notes, food they pair well with, and share a little history of each. Finally, we’ll leave you with four links to online stores where you can order delivery.

Spanish wine map

Spanish Wine Facts

Spain is well known for its wine, cuisine, sunshine, and laidback vibe — but Spanish wines are a serious business. From Tempranillo to Cava, each has a fierce reputation to uphold and defend, which they do so with gusto. 

With a rich and diverse history that dates back thousands of years, today it’s one of the largest wine-producing countries in the world, with more than one million hectares (2.5 million acres) of vineyards. 

Its wine regions are known for their unique terroir, grape varieties, and winemaking techniques — although, today there is a mix of old and new bodegas (wineries). 

  • Spain is the third largest wine producer in the world, after Italy and France.
  • The wine industry is a major contributor to the Spanish economy, with around 4,300 wineries and over 400,000 people employed in the industry.
  • The country has over 60 wine regions, each with its own unique terroir and grape varieties.

Tempranillo Wine

Tempranillo is one of the most widely planted grape varieties in Spain, accounting for 25% of vineyards. It’s the main grape used in the production of Rioja wines — this is probably what you tried first. If you’re ever in Spain, and love wine, a trip to Rioja is a must. 

The countryside is stunning, and the region produces more than 250 million liters (66 million gallons) of wine each year. You can sample wines in bars and bodegas for next to nothing. Of course, there are also some very glitzy high-end bodegas there too, some requiring reservations and deeper pockets. 

Tempranillo wines are typically medium-bodied, with notes of red fruit, vanilla, leather, and tobacco. They pair well with stews, roasted meats, and hard cheeses (like Manchego).

Tempranillo wine food pairing suggestions: 

The history of Tempranillo dates as far back as the Phoenician and Roman eras. During the Middle Ages, the grape was cultivated by the Monks and became the dominant grape variety in the La Rioja region. Its popularity is not likely to wane any time soon either. 

Want to discover more about the La Rioja region? Check out our La Rioja Foodie Guide!

Wine barrels line a large corridor

Garnacha Wine

Garnacha, also known as Grenache, is another popular grape variety in Spain. It is widely grown in the Priorat and Montsant regions of Catalonia. Garnacha wines are typically full-bodied, with notes of dark fruit, spices, and herbs. They pair well with grilled meats, stews, and hearty dishes.

Garnacha wine food pairing suggestions: 

The history of Garnacha can be traced back to the Aragon region in the 12th century. Today, it’s the second most widely planted grape variety in Spain, accounting for 20% of bodegas. The Priorat region produces some of the highest-quality Garnacha wines, and five million liters (1.3 million gallons) every year. 

Monastrell Wine

Monastrell, also known as Mourvèdre, is a grape variety that is grown in the Jumilla and Yecla regions of southeastern Spain. Monastrell wines are full-bodied, with notes of blackberries, spice, and leather. They pair well with grilled meats, stews, and bold-flavored dishes.

Monastrell wine food pairing suggestions: 

The history of Monastrell dates back to the 5th century BC, when the Phoenicians introduced the grape to the region. The grape was later cultivated by the Moors during the Middle Ages. Today, Monastrell takes up around 75,000 hectares (185 acres) of bodegas in Spain, which produces around 103 million liters (27 million gallons) each year.

Albariño Wine

Albariño is a white grape variety that is grown in the Rías Baixas region of Galicia. Albariño wines are light-bodied, with notes of citrus, peach, and apricot. They pair well with seafood, grilled vegetables, and light salads.

Albariño wine food pairing suggestions: 

The history of Albariño can be traced back to the 12th century, when the grape was introduced to the region by Cistercian monks.

The grape was later cultivated by local farmers, who recognized its potential as a high-quality grape variety. Today, Albariño is grown on 5,500 hectares (13,590 acres) of bodegas in Spain, resulting in 63 million liters (16.5 million gallons) of Albariño wine.

Verdejo Wine

Verdejo is a white grape variety that is grown mostly in the Rueda region of Castilla y León. Verdejo wines are light-bodied, with notes of citrus, herbs, and floral aromas. They pair well with seafood, salads, and light tapas.

Verdejo wine food pairing suggestions: 

The history of Verdejo dates back to the 11th century, when the grape was introduced to the region by Mozarabic settlers. The grape was later cultivated by monks during the Middle Ages. Today, it’s grown on approximately 18,000 hectares (45,000 acres) of bodegas, resulting in around 78 million liters (20.5 million gallons) of wine.

In addition to still wines, Spain is also known for producing high-quality sparkling wines and fortified wines. Two of the most famous are cava and sherry.

Cava

Cava is a sparkling wine that is made using the same traditional method as champagne. It is produced primarily in the Catalonia region of Spain, using local grape varieties such as Macabeo, Parellada, and Xarel-lo, and accounts for more than half of Spain’s sparkling wine production. Cava is known for its crisp acidity, delicate bubbles, and fresh fruit flavors. It can be enjoyed as an aperitif, in a cocktail, or paired with seafood, desserts, light salads, or creamy cheeses.

Cava food pairing suggestions: 

A white chocolate cheesecake with a green pistachio nut topping sits with a large slice removed

Sherry

Sherry is a fortified wine that is produced in the Jerez region of Andalusia in southern Spain, and is exported to over 60 countries. It’s made using a blend of different grape varieties, including Palomino, Pedro Ximénez, and Moscatel.

Sherry’s aged in oak barrels using a solera system, which blends younger and older wines to create a consistent flavor profile. Sherry can range in style from dry and crisp (Fino or Manzanilla) to rich and sweet (Oloroso or Pedro Ximénez), and can be paired with a wide range of foods, from salty nuts and olives to rich stews and desserts.

Sherry food pairing suggestions: 

Where to buy Spanish wines overseas

Not in Spain? Not a problem, you can still enjoy Spanish wine and have it delivered to your door. Here are some of the most popular sites to use. 

Wine.com

Wine.com is a popular online wine store that offers a variety of Spanish wines from different regions. They offer shipping to most states in the US, as well as international shipping to over 30 countries.

Total Wine & More

Total Wine & More is a large wine retailer with stores in many US states. They offer a wide selection of Spanish wines, including popular brands and lesser-known producers. They offer online ordering and in-store pickup or delivery, and can ship to some international locations.

Bodeboca

Bodeboca is an online store that specializes in Spanish wines. They offer a wide selection of wines from different regions, as well as tasting notes, food pairing suggestions, and other information to help you choose. They offer international shipping to many countries, including the US.

WineBid

WineBid is a little different as it’s an online auction site (based in the US) that specializes in fine and rare wines, including many high-end Spanish wines. They offer a selection of current and vintage wines, and you can bid on or purchase wines directly. They ship to many countries.

Spanish Wine FAQs

What is the most popular wine in Spain?

The most popular grape variety is Tempranillo, and Rioja is Spain’s most famous red wine abroad. Ribera del Duero is another very popular red, and within Spain, it’s usually a battle between these two. 

What is Spanish wine called?

There are hundreds of Spanish wines, but some of the most common are Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Monastrell, Verdejo, and Cava. 

What is Spanish white wine called?

Albariño is one of the most popular white wines from Spain. The grape is grown in the Rías Baixas region of Galicia. 

What kind of wine is a Rioja?

Rioja usually refers to a red wine produced in La Rioja, often using Tempranillo grapes. There are also white riojas and other grape varieties used to make up a Rioja wine.

A landscape photo of the Andalusian city of Granada, Spain

Want to check out more produce from Spain?

Check out our regional foodie guides.

Our foodie guides are jam-packed with recipe ideas, travel tips, and where to find the best dishes in Spain.

Made for foodies by foodies.

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