|Spain is the world's third largest producer of wine, the largest being Italy and France. Spain produces many different types of wine, and the country has an abundance of native grape varieties, with over 600 varieties planted throughout Spain, although most of the of the wine production is only from 20 grapes, including Tempranillo, Albarino, Garnacha and Macabeo among others.
Most Spanish Wines are labeled according to the amount of aging the wine has received, with the three most common aging designations being Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva. Crianza red wines are aged for 2 years with at least 6 months in oak, the Crianza whites and rosés must be aged for at least 1 year with at least 6 months in oak. Reserva red wines are aged for at least 3 years with at least 1 year in oak. Reserva whites and rosés must be aged for at least 2 years with at least 6 months in oak. Gran Reserva red wines typically requires at least 5 years aging with at least 18 months in oak, with Gran Reserva whites and rosés requiring at least 4 years aging with at least 6 months in oak.
Wine is produced throughout Spain, and there are many wine regions. The major regions include Rioja, Ribero del Duero, Valdepenas, Navarra, Penedes and Rueda.
Rioja is probably Spain's best known wine region. It takes its name from the Rio Oja, which is one of the tributaries of the nearby river Ebro. This region provides some of the most extensive wine tours Spain has to offer.
Ribero del Duero is known for their Tempranillo production and now rivals Rioja as the most exciting wine region of Spain. The wines are big and bold with lots of chunky fruits. Some of the best, and also most expensive Spanish wines are produced here. Located in central Spain around the Duero River, a tour through the wineyards of Ribero del Duero is one of the most scenic wine tours Spain offers.
Valdapenas is a region with hot humid summers and cold winters. This region produces some excellent Reserva and Gran Reserva wines using 100% Temprenillo, and are very good value for money.
The Navarra region near the Rioja produces traditional wine, using indigenous grapes, as well as more modern style wines, using French grapes along with Spanish varieties. The Penedes region is situated south of Barcelona and produces elegant light wines, mainly white wine. Rueda is also primarily a white wine producing area mainly made from 100% Verdejo grapes. For white wines Rueda probably offers the best wine tours in Spain.
The Jerez region is another historic Spanish wine area. This hot and dry southwest region of Spain is the birthplace of the fortified wine: Sherry
Cava is a Spanish sparkling wine made in the traditional method of French champagne. It originated in Catalonia region at the Codorníu Winery in the late 19th century. Today use of the term "Cava" is restricted to production around select municipalities in various areas. 95% of Spain's total Cava production is from Catalonia with the village of Sant Sadurní d'Anoia being home to many of Spain's largest Cava production houses.