Spanish wines are among the most famous in the world, as the country has the perfect climate for vines, which produce wine grapes. A whole range of varieties exist, which are classified using the Designation of Origin system, allowing you to learn where each wine originates.
The labels Rioja, Ribera del Duero and Toro are all among Spain’s best-known wines, as is Cava from Catalonia (a sparkling wine that competes with French Champagne), while Spanish sherry is synonymous with Jerez, from which it takes its name. All of these varieties are highly prestigious and shine at international contests and wine-tasting events.
Spanish wine culture is also vibrant, with wine lovers studying and appreciating the various vintages, devoting commensurate attention to the product and its preparation. Wine fermentation typically occurs at wineries directly beside the vineyards. Though machines have largely replaced harvesters stomping on the grapes to release juices, bare feet stomping remains one of the most representative images that comes to mind when we think of wine making.
La Rioja, around 100 kilometres south of Bilbao in northern Spain, is undoubtedly the top Spanish destination for wine tourism. Nevertheless, wine is made practically nationwide and wineries (bodegas) up and down the country offer tours, courses and tasting sessions for visitors looking to familiarise themselves with the local vino. Indeed, it is surprisingly easy to embark on day trips to wineries from popular tourist cities such as Barcelona, Seville, Granada, Córdoba, Málaga, Valencia, Toledo and Madrid.
Are you partial to a good white? Or do you prefer a red or rosé? Do you like it still or sparkling? Whatever the case may be, in Spain you will have your fill, with wines available everywhere you go, from supermarkets to specialised wine cellars, airport souvenir shops and the vast majority of restaurants.
The only thing more delicious than sampling the country’s wines is pairing them with the many dishes typical of Spanish gastronomy. To give just a few examples, whether you’re sharing some tapas, savouring a paella, scoffing down some tasty jamón ibérico ham or delighting in one of the famous hearty stews that can be found under different names across the country (such as fabada and cocido), you’re sure to find a match made in heaven.