Spain has been making wine for centuries but it is only in the last 20 years that Spanish wine has started to gain the recognition it deserves worldwide for good quality wines that are not necessarily Rioja.
The highest classification of Spanish wine is the Denominacion de Origen Calificada or DOC. Following this comes wines with a DO classification and there are more than fifty of these regions. Below this comes wine classified as Vino de la Tierra, similar to the French Vin de Pays.
Every DO or DOC wine bottle carries a seal from the local controlling body which guarantees the correct classification of the wine. Ageing of DO and DOC wines is very strict and all wines fall in to four main ageing categories. The ageing of a wine can greatly affect its quality so keep an eye out for the level of ageing on the label!
Vino Joven – this means ‘young wine’ and means that it has been bottled in the year following the vintage. Vino Joven wines are generally for early drinking.
Crianza – minimum 2 years old for red wines and aged in oak casks for at least 6 months. White wines must be at least 1 year old.
Reserva – minimum 3 years old for red wines and aged in oak casks for at least 12 months. White wines must be at least 2 years old with 6 months in oak.
Gran reserva – usually only produced in exceptional vintages and usually correspondingly expensive! Reds wines must be aged for at least 5 years, with 2 years in oak. White wines must be aged for 4 years with 6 months in oak.
There are a number of notable Spanish wine regions:
Learn more about Spanish wine vintages here.