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Wines from Spain, an Introduction

Spanish Wines & Denominations of Origin

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Vino Rioja

Vino Rioja - Marques de Riscal (c) 2007 L. Sierra Licensed to About.com

In Spain wine is served daily at la comida, the large midday meal, as well as at dinner. There is no ritual bottle opening, sniffing or glass swirling. It is opened and set in the middle of the table for all to share and is simply considered part of the meal, a compliment to the food. Teenagers are often served a weak mix of wine and gaseosa or sparkling water, a sign that they are almost adults. It seems every Spanish family knows someone who has a bodega or wine cellar and occasionally receives a plain, unmarked bottle to enjoy. Quality Spanish wine is not hard to find in Spain or anywhere in the world and generally will not empty your wallet. That is because Spain is a major player in world wine production, not just consumption.

Wine has played an important role in Spanish cuisine and culture since the Romans. Spain is the third largest producer of wine in the word after France and Italy, and according to the Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade (Instituto Español de Comercio Exterior, ICEX) cultivates about 1.2 million hectares (2.96 million acres) of grapes, of which almost 98% is destined for wine production. Although French and Italian wines are very popular, Spain continues to be the country with the largest area of vine cultivation in the European Union and the world. In addition, of the three largest producers, Spain is only one whose production is on the increase.

Spain’s Wine Producing Regions

Which regions in Spain produce wines? At the current time, Spain has 73 areas that are classified as producing quality wine and except for Cantabria and Santander, there is a Denominación de Origen or Denomination of Origin in every autonomous community. Over half of Spain’s total wine production comes from Castilla-La Mancha, followed by Catalonia, Extremadura and the Valencia regions. La Rioja and Castilla-Leon are ranked fifth and sixth in wine production, even though they are probably the most well known regions for quality red wines.

Good Quality Spanish Wines Priced for Any Budget

Many Spanish wines are reasonably-priced and of good quality. In the last few decades, Spanish wines have risen in quality and garnered international attention, but prices have remained low.

Spanish Wine Drinks

Even if you have not tasted Spanish wine, you’ve probably had Spain’s most popular wine drink, sangria, a wine punch made with lemon-lime soda, sugar and sliced fruit. If you do not have the time or energy to make a pitcher of sangria, try tinto de verano, the Spanish version of a wine cooler and one of the most popular and refreshing summer drinks.

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