Spain produces some amazing wine. There are 7 different “wine regions” in Spain and each region produces unique, and relatively inexpensive varieties. When I went to Spain, I only had 3 days there and definitely did not get a chance to explore all of the different types of wine the country has to offer. Honestly, I stuck with trying a few different house wines and then enjoyed the Sangria. I also tried Cava, sort of.
There is plenty of great information out there if you would like to learn more about Spanish wine. My favorite source is the “Wines From Spain” website. They break the wine regions down as follows:
- Green Spain: Located in the Northern and Northwest part of the country, this region enjoys cooler temperatures and a wet climate. Dry or Tart white wines from the region are popular and quickly gaining prominence around the world.
- North Central Spain: The vineyards in this region are generally found at very high elevations and near the banks of the Duero River. Producing wine in this region can be difficult as the weather can prevent grapes from ripening properly, however in good years, the wine from this region is excellent.
- The Ebro River Valley: Rioja, arguably one of Spain’s most famous wines, is produced in this region. Some of Spain’s most important red grapes, Tempranillo and Garnacha, are also prevalent in the region. The variety coming from this region is due, in part, to the different climates present in this region. My advice – try the Rioja! You can find it in most grocery store wine sections and it is a true Spanish wine.
- The Meseta: This arid region boasts almost two thirds of Spain’s vineyards, but has only recently begun to be respected as an area capable of producing great wine. This region’s focus on varietals may soon help it’s wines to become some of the more common Spanish wines.
- The Mediterranean Coast: The Eastern coast of Spain produces some truly high-quality wines. While the region produces many delicious white wines, it is easily most known for Cava. Cava is a sparkling wine, similar to champagne. Cava is typically crisp and dry and has become quite popular in the US over the last few years. Want to hear my Cava story? I promise I will tell it at the end of this post!
- Andalucia: This region is hot. The temperatures easily soar above 100 degrees (F) in the summer. As a result, some excellent fortified wines and dessert wines come from this region. This region gives us many varieties of Sherry, which are definitely worth a try!
- The Islands: While the Canary Islands and the Balearics produce some very unique white wines, very few of them leave Spain. Many don’t even leave the islands! I have never had any wines from this region, but they are supposed to be great. I guess we will all need to take a trip to the Islands and find out!
My Cava Story… I know I promised you the Cava story, and it’s not so much the story that’s great as it is the picture that accompanies the story. When Sarah and I went to Spain everyone told me I had to try the Cava. This seemed like a pretty reasonable thing to tell me since I like wine and Cava is produced right outside of Barcelona, where I was headed. I hadn’t heard of Cava, so I did some research to find out what was so special about it. I found out it is a dry, white, sparkling wine, like a champagne. I guess this is where I should tell you that I like sweet white wine, the sweeter the better. I’m not a big red wine drinker, and while I do like drier white wines now, I still find some to be too dry for my tastes. Two years ago, I really only liked sweeter wines.
Sarah and I found a wonderful chocolate shop near our hostel and they had some cava filled chocolates. Since we were traveling on a student budget, and I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to spend 6 Euro on a glass of wine I wasn’t likely to like, I thought trying the chocolate would be a good way to get an idea of what Cava tasted like. Luckily for all of you, and not so luckily for me, Sarah was on hand to capture my reaction to trying the Cava chocolate.
Needless to say, I didn’t like it. It was definitely too dry for me, and I ended up sticking to Sangria and some other sweeter whites while out to dinner. I will still be giving it another shot on my next trip to Spain. I know my tastes in wine have changed over the last couple of years, and, who knows, I might like it now!