How to read a wine label: Part Five (Spanish Wines)

I’ve shared tips on how to decipher wine labels from various regions like Chile, France, New Zealand and the United States. This week, let’s talk Spain!

Spain (Classified as Old World)

Grape Varieties

Spain’s premier red wine region is  Rioja and was the first region in Spain to be christened as Denominación de Origen Calificada—in 1991. Tempranillo is the main grape of Rioja. Here’s a link to an interactive map to Spain’s wine growing regions.

Wine Regulation (systems of defining and regulating wine growing regions and practices)

  • DOC or DOCa – Denominacion de Origen Calificada (highest classification)
  • DO – Denominacion de Orgien
  • Vino de Mesa (lowest classification)

DO wines have additional regulations for aging:

Joven: No Cask aging (replaced Sin Crianza)

Crianza: Red = 2 years of age, 6 months in oakspanish-wine-label
White = 1 year of age, 6 months in oak

Reserva: Red= 3 years of age, 1 in oak
White = 2 years of age, 6 months in oak

Gran Reserva: Red= 5 years of age, two in oak
White= 4 years of age, 6 months in oak

Aging Terms for Non-DO wines:

  • Noble – 12 Months
  • Anejo – 24 Months
  • Viejo – 36 Months

Although I’ve spent time studying Spanish wines, I admit that when I’m shopping for wine, I rarely pick up a bottle from Spain. Do you have a recommendation?

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