Currently Spanish wine is the third largest wines produced in terms of the annual volume of product available internationally.
Other European countries may produce more wine than Spain, but it is only in Spain you have grapes planted in almost every section of the country.
The Spanish are also responsible in a large part for the wine industry of the nations of South America and part of the United States especially California which they helped in establishing centuries ago.
The country has a long and illustrious history when it comes to wine making and this history even extends to include wine making in the period of the ancient Roman Empire.
Spanish wines are classified with a six-tier system.
- Vino de Mesa
- Vinos de la Tierra
- Vino de Calidad Producido en Región Determinada
- Denominación de Origen
- Denominación de Origen Calificada
- Denominación de Pago.
The first tier, Vino de Mesa, is the least distinguished classification and refers to mostly table wines made from a blended variety of grapes.
The second tier, Vinos de la Tierra, usually refers to wines that are classified by the region their grapes were grown in and in which they were produced.
The third tier, Vino de Calidad Producido en Región Determinada, is more or less a passing stage for wines that are on their way to fourth tier
This fourth tier, Denominación de Origen, refers to quality wine which has been certified by the relevant authorities in charge of attesting to the quality of wine produce. Wine which has this status can be defined as quality wine internationally.
The fifth tier which is the Denominación de Origen Calificada is used to refer to wines that come from regions where renowned quality wine is produced year after year.
The sixth tier, Denominación de Pago, is a category reserved for single entity owned wine making estates of great repute and very few wines in Spain have this status.
Other than this six-tier system of wine classification, the wine is also labeled according to how long it has aged.
For wines which have been aged from two years and above you have the most common categories being:
- Gran Reserva
which refers to wines that have been aged for 2, 3 and 5 years and above, respectively, when it comes to red wines. They must also have been aged in oak for at least 6 months, 1 year and 18 months for the three aging categories respectively.
For white and rose wines to attain statuses of Crianza, Reserva or Gran Reserva they must have been aged for at least 1, 2 and 4 years respectively with at least 6 months in oak regardless of category.
When it comes to Spanish wine making grapes, the Tempranillo and Garnacha are the most widely planted red wine grapes while Airen is the most widely planted white wine grape.
However, there is an immense variety of grapes available which are planted in various Spanish wine regions and a person new to the world of Spanish wine may encounter some of the many available or wine blends that include such grapes.
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