Spanish wine ranks right up there with French and Italian as the pinnacle of old world production. The vines are old, storied, seasoned, and give fruit to a unique brand of red and white wine grapes that have people from all over the map flocking there to see what ‘the best’ actually tastes like.
Spain is most famous for Rioja, but that’s just the beginning. Throughout the country in a whole host of varying climates and altitudes you’ll find a wide range of wines, all delicious and indulgent in their own right.
This is a short list of the best wine varietals Spain has to offer, giving you something soul quenching to look forward to on your next visit to Europe.
1 | Albariño
Wines coming from the Rias Baixas region of Spain must be at least 70% Albariño. It is the most abundantly grown grape in the region. It is close in proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and enjoys a high rainfall rate (sometimes exceeding 71 inches per year).
Albariño is a highly acidic, bright, and refreshing white wine that also grows in certain areas of Portugal. It pairs extremely well with fish dishes such as ceviche or fish tacos, which are found in great quantities in nearby cities.
2 | Cava
Cava is Spain’s most widely enjoyed sparkling white wine, and is the Iberian Peninsula’s answer to its French neighbors chief export, Champagne. The name, however, doesn’t come from a region or even the grape with which it is made. Cavas are the stone cellars in which the wine is aged and matured, lending its name to the wine itself.
The primary location of Cava production in Spain is San Sadurni de Noya, but it is produced in other Mediterranean climate regions of the country.
3 | Rioja
Rioja is perhaps the most well-known wine region in Spain, and gives its name to varieties containing mostly Tempranillo and Grenache. Rioja is located in northern Spain alongside roughly 60 miles of the Ebro River, and was the very first wine in Spain to be given the prestigious DOC certification (Denominación de Origen Calificada).
Rioja can be found pretty much anywhere in the world today, and goes well with medium intensity meat dishes, and especially stews.
4 | Navarra Rosé
While not one of its most famous regions, Navarra is still one of its most notable. It put itself on the map as the producer of crisp, fruit-forward Rosé. Rosé has certainly become one of the most popular wines on the planet in recent years, and Navarra is one of the best places to get it.
It sits just north of Rioja, and was established as a wine-producing region dating back all the way to Roman times. If you’re visiting Rioja in the near future, consider making the journey north to visit this overlooked, but equally as impressive wine region.
5 | Priorat
Finally, we reach Catalonia, the most visited Spanish state in the northeastern corner of the country. In recent years, Priorat has gained notoriety for being the preeminent bold, full-bodied red wine in the entire region. It’s made mostly from Garnacha and Cariñena, and contains hints of black licorice, tar, and blended cherries.
Priorat vines are incredibly low-yielding, even by Spanish standards, making it an incredibly coveted and appreciated wine. Typically, lower yield translates to higher quality, and Priorat is no exception. If you find yourself in Barcelona, do yourself a favor and seek out this wine as if it’s the only thing you do while you’re there.