Let grape varieties be your guide when wine tasting in Spain

Wine has long played an important role in the culture of Spain, with vines having been grown on the Iberian Peninsula since at least 3000BC. The country boasts a varied climate with a wide diversity of breath-taking landscapes and architecture, the perfect backdrop to explore the local traditions, cuisine and wines.

Discover the variety of wine styles through exclusive wine tasting in Spain

Although Spain does not boast as many native varieties as Italy, several hundred varieties are grown in the country. However, it’s easier to get to grips with Spanish wine as the vast majority of wines are made from just a few leading varieties.

Crisp, white wines

Thanks to the distance between Spain’s Atlantic and Mediterranean coastline and various mountain ranges, Spain’s varied climate offers a variety of wine styles. The cool vineyards in the far north, with lush vegetation and the Atlantic as their canvas, yield light, crisp white wines. Rías Baixas in Galicia produces wines showcasing Albariño, the region’s signature grape variety, and are generally crisp, fresh and aromatic with plenty of zingy acidity thanks to the cooling ocean influences.

Rueda, located on the Duero river northwest of Madrid, is a perfect place to indulge in some off-the-beaten-track white wine tasting. Spain’s aromatic Verdejo variety, along with small amounts of Viura (aka Macabeo) and Sauvignon Blanc, produces delightful fresh, perfumed whites. You could also sample the local traditional method sparkling wine, Rueda Espumoso or seek out the golden fortified wine, Rueda Dorada, a style that was once more common to the region.

Fruity reds from Tempranillo

The warmer, drier regions inland tend towards medium-bodied, fruit-driven reds, often based on the Tempranillo grape variety. Spain’s most renowned region, Rioja, is one of the most exciting destinations for wine tasting in Spain. Here you can sample bright, red-fruit-scented red wines produced from Tempranillo and Garnacha. However, be ready for a good dose of oak, as Rioja has a long tradition of using oak barriques, making oaky aromas and flavours a key feature of the Rioja style, especially in the case of those aged for longest in oak, Gran Reserva.

Ribera del Duero, high up on an elevated plateau at 800m and divided by the Duero river, from which it gains its name, also features a number of world-class producers crafting superb wines from the Tempranillo grape, the mostly widely planted variety in the region.

Toro calls its local form of Tempranillo Tinto del Toro. This region, just 65km east of the Portuguese border is also known for its powerful reds from Spain’s favourite variety. A region to watch – wine producers from other regions have also established wineries here and are helping to put the Toro region back on the map.

Old-vine Garnacha and Cariñena

Any serious wine tasting in Spain should include a stop in Priorat, a small dynamic region in Catalonia, where concentrated wines with aromas of dark fruit, tar and liquorice are produced from old Garnacha and Cariñena vines clinging to the steep slopes of layered, red llicorella slate. Priorat wines represent one of the few world-class styles based on Garnacha.

Fortified wine from Andalusia

The heat-baked, far south is home to the ‘Sherry Triangle’, where the Palomino grape is king and the main variety used to produce the various styles of the fortified wine, sherry. The wine has a long, distinguished history and is a must for any wine tasting in Spain.

Bubbles near Barcelona

Some of the best wine tasting Spain has on offer is also its iconic traditional method sparkling wine, Cava, produced from local varieties Macabeo, Parallada and Xarel-lo, nowadays sometimes with the addition of Pinot Noir or Chardonnay. Fruity Cava Rosada may also contain Monastrell to add a splash of colour.

If you need some help familiarising yourself with Spanish varieties, our local experts at Wine Paths are on hand to arrange the most exciting wine tasting Spain can provide.


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