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    The Newbie Guide to Spanish Wines & its Famous Wine Regions | Watson's Wine

    The Newbie Guide to Spanish Wines & its Famous Wine Regions

    When it comes as no surprise that France is famous for its red/white wines, you will probably be shocked to learn that Spain is currently the world’s largest wine exporter and the third largest producer of wine in the world. Since Spain is a peninsula, the climate and terroirs vary widely from region to region, and so do the wine styles. Let’s find out more about the characteristics of renowned wine regions like Rioja, Priorat, Ribera del Duero and Penedès in which produce numerous premium and internationally awarded wines.

    Spanish Wine Region 1: Rioja

    Rioja is the most widely-recognized wine region among Spain and was the first region acquired the top-tier DOCa qualification in 1991.

    Wines from Rioja are mainly made from Tempranillo grapes that carry ripe fruit and earthy flavors with very smooth tannins and vary in style — so you might hear people calling wines from Rioja either ‘traditional’ or ‘modern’ in style. ‘Traditional’ wines of Rioja are more developed, harmonious and elegant with medium body style while ‘modern’ wines are fresher, bolder and more concentrated.


    Spanish Wine Region 2: Priorat

    Red Priorat wine is one of very few world-class wine styles based on Grenache grapes. It is also another region to hold Spain’s top-tier DOCa classification.


    Most of Priorat’s red wines are full bodied and made from a blend of Garnacha, Cariñena and other grapes. Sun-dried red and black plum, black cherry, and cassis dominate the aroma profile of high quality Priorat red wines. Apart from this, you will notice a distinctive “hard rock” scent that you might imagine smelling while riding a bike on a muddy road during a summer rain.

    Spanish Wine Region 3: Ribera del Duero

    In 2008 Ribera del Duero was approved to receive DOCa classification, but the acquisition was never pursued and Ribera del Duero remains as a DO until today.


    Tempranillo-based wines are the king in Ribera Del Duero. Due to the huge climate difference, the wines here are darker, more powerful and have stronger tannins than those in Rioja, which has more finesse and elegance. They are red wine lovers’ dreams and tastes even better with age. Ribera has garnered a reputation for producing spectacular, award-winning reds and is considered the purest expression of the Tempranillo grapes.

    Spanish Wine Region 4: Penedès

    Penedes is famous for being the home of cava, which has a DO classification. Only those wines produced by using the traditional champagne wine-making method can be called cava, the rest are just sparkling wines.
    Cava was first produced in 1872 by Josep Raventós of the Codorniu winery, who fell in love with Champagne and successfully copied its production method using Spanish grapes after a reconnaissance mission to France.
    Cava is usually made from grapes like Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada. But the essential process for making a Cava is the secondary fermentation of the wine, which adds some whole new appealing, savory flavors to the Cava, such as fresh bread dough, white chocolate and nutty notes. Cava is a great bet for bubbly wines when your budget is limited.


    After learning the distinctive features of these Spanish wines regions, it is surprisingly interesting that the wine styles in Spain can be so diverse and some regions can produce historical and highly rated red wines that can even compete with top tier wines from France but with affordable prices. And all of them are waiting for your discovery.