Buy Spanish Wines

Written by Blaire Chandler-Wilcox
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Like France and Italy, Spain has her own classification system for wines. The Denominacion de Origen regulates all the wines produced in this country. The red wines are often further classified into Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva.

In the regions of Rioja and Ribera del Duero, the Crianza classification dictates that wines are at least two years old, with half that time spent in wood casks (typically American Oak). This aging time is allowed to be less in other regions, often as short as six months. Reservas are three years old, with one year spent in casks. Gran Reservas are five years old, with two years spent in the cask, and three years in the bottle.

Rijoa: "La Puerta del Vino"

Although there are many, many, many varieties of Spanish grapes, the big boy on the block is the Tempranillo. The Tempranillo grape tastes of strawberries and plums, and is the main (and often only) grape of the most famous and fine of all Spanish wines, Rioja. The jury is out on the quality of white Riojas, but her reds are world famous, and for good reason. Rioja is considered the epitome of fine Spanish wine. Much of the credit Rioja receives is a result of the improved character that comes from longer aging within American oak. There are excellently drinkable options within all the classes, though some Gran Reservas feature exceptional aging potential. The region of Rioja is broken down into three areas: Rioja Alta to the north, and to the east, Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Baja. It is widely given that red wines from Rioja Alta are the best the area has to offer.

Rioja reds are classified as classic and bold, and are said to have "bright, fresh" flavor. They tend to taste of strawberries, plums and cherries, with hints of vanilla. They are said to be best served around 61 degrees, and do not require decanting to be fully enjoyed. They make an excellent accompaniment to steak, and other hearty meats.

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