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Understanding Spanish Wines

Spanish wines have the versatility of being great for pairing their wine with food, due to the vast array of
choices from the 3 million acres planted from 64 different DO(Denominacion de Origen) regions in Spain. Spanish wines cover every style and price point from traditional grape varieties to International grapes. There are the established regions like Rioja, Priorat, and Ribera del Duero, while new areas, Rias Baixas, Yecla, Jumilla have been producing great wines.

Spanish Grape Varietals

  • Albarino – Rias Baixas – High Acidity, Spring Flowers, flint, white peaches, nectarines.
  • Cabernet Sauvignon – Navarra, La Mancha, Penedes, and Sardon de Duero – Dense, rich, full flavored with black cherry, dark plums, currants, and blackberries
  • Chardonnay – Cataluna, Navarra, Penedes – typical apple, vanilla, melon, and citrus
  • Garnacha – Alicante, Campo de Borja, Carinena, La Mancha, Priorato, and Monsant – Grenache in France – Dark, spicy, full bodied minerally, robust wild berry, spice, and tea leaf
  • Graciano – Rioja, and Navarra – high acidity and tannins – mostly used as a blending grape with Tempranillo
  • Mazuelo/Carinena/Samso –Montsant, Priorato, Campo de Borja, Carinena, Rioja, Costers del Segre – Robust, earthy, spicy, and minerally wines
  • Mencia – Ribeira Sacra, Ribeiro, Valdeorras – similar to Barbera grapes in Piedmont, Italy – high acidity with low tannins
  • Merlot – Alicante, Cataluna, Navarra – deep color, herbaceous, fruit flavors of black fruits
  • Monastrell – Jumilla – Mourvedre in France – Peppery, black cherry, tree bark, tart cherry, dark plum
  • Tempanillo, Tinto Fino, Tinto del Pais, Tinto de Toro, Cencibel – Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Toro, La Mancha spicy fruit, firm tannin, wild herb, bing cherry, strawberry – most important grape in Spain, Riojas must use over 85% of these grapes, and Riberas use over 75%
  • Verdejo – Rueda – floral, stony, minerally, ripe peach, apricot, honeysuckle, similar to Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Region in France

A few Pairing Suggestions for Spanish wines - Red

Garnacha, Tempranillo, Monastrell from Navarra, Valdepenas, La Mancha:

  • Similar to Beaujolais, Light Chianti, or Valpolicella
  • Roast Chicken, Ham, Roast Pork, Spicy foods
Tempranillo from Rioja, Navarra:
  • Similar to Burgundy, Chianti, Cotes de Rhone
  • Red Meat, Roast Game, Rich Sauces, Tuna
Tempranillo, Tinto del Toro from Ribera del Duero, Toro:
  • Similar to Australian Merlot, California Pinot Noir, Sicilian wines
  • Lamb, Venison, Duck, Goose, Roast Beef
Bobal, Carinena, Monastrell from Jumilla, Yecla, Valencia:
  • Similar to Zinfandel, Costieres de Nimes, Primitivo
  • Roasted and Grilled Meats, Barbecues
Mencia, Graciano, Garnacha from Priorat, Bierzo:
  • Similar to Australian Shiraz, Crozes Hermitage, Pinotage
  • Sausages, Stews, Duck, Goose, Peppered Steak
Pairing Suggestions for Spanish wines - White
Airen, Albillo from Vinos de Madrid, La Mancha:
  • Similar to Orvieto, Soave, Muscadet, lighter Sancerres
  • Shellfish, Grilled Chicken, Quiche, Salads
Albarino, Godello, Torrontes, Malvasia from Rias Baixas, Ribeiro, Valdorras:
  • Similar to Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Alsacian, crisp Viognier
  • Thai, Chinese, Seafood, Fried, Pates, Pork
Verdejo, Hondarribia, Viura, Parellada from Rueda, Txakoli, Penedes:
  • Similar to New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs, Pinot Grigio, Austrian Gruner Veltliner
  • Seafood, Tomato based sauces, Thai, Sushi
Aged Malvar, Palomino, Albillo from Rioja, Vinos de Madrid, Penedes:
  • Similar to Chardonnay, Fume Blanc, White Rhone
  • Savory Cheeses, Cured Ham, Roast Chicken, Smoked Salmon, Paella
Rose - Garnacha, Tempranillo, Bobal from Navarra, Penedes, Valencia:
  • Similar to Provence, Tavel, Bandol
  • Delicate fish, Spicy, Salads, Pasta
From Spanish Wines to Unoaked Chardonnay

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