Spanish Wine Facts You Probably Didn’t Know

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It’s one thing to drink wine, but learning to appreciate its taste and origin is another thing altogether. For thousands of years, Spain has been making wine and cultivating their wine culture alongside contemporaries such as France and Italy. However, there’s a certain distinction that sets Spanish wine apart from the bunch.

If you want to learn more about Spanish wine and pick up a few fun facts to impress your friends along the way, then read on.

The world loves Spanish wines

In case you weren’t aware, Spain is one of the world’s top countries when it comes to producing and exporting wine. In fact, the Spanish Observatory of Wine Markets notes that Spain is the leading exporter of wine, shipping out at least 22.8 million hectolitres in 2017. This feat is mostly possible due to the part Barcelona plays geographically and logistically. Despite not having enough fertile lands to have a flourishing wine production industry, the Catalan capital is home to a huge port with more than 2,000 years of trading history. This makes it possible for Catalan wine to be more accessible on a global scale.

Indeed, Barcelona’s role in Catalan wine has had a ripple effect across the world. Case in point — its Latin name Barcino is the namesake of a popular Spanish restaurant and wine bar all the way in the Philippines, a former Spanish colony. The restaurant serves authentic Spanish tapas and wine, a testament to Catalan wine and its influence across the world. Moreover, the French have also been noted to appreciate Spanish wines the most, as France is known to import over 6.5 million hectolitres of Spanish wine in a year.

There are more than 400 varieties of grapes in Spain

The huge number of grape varieties in Spain allows Spanish wines to have a unique variation of aroma notes and flavour profiles. In fact, our previous post ‘Sampling the wines of Catalonia’ notes how Tempranillo, the primary grape used to make Rioja, is brimming with plum and berry flavours with hints of spiced tobacco. Aside from that, the white wine grape variety of Airen can be made into crisp wines with refreshingly fruity notes.

Weird Spanish wine cocktails

While you might be familiar with the ever-popular summer cocktail that is sangria, let us introduce you to another Spanish creation that isn’t as well-known: Kalimotxo. The Huffington Post reports that this heinous creation is not a recent invention, with stories of its inception going as far back as the ’70s. To make Kalimotxo, pour equal parts of cola and cheap red wine in a glass. Though a lot of people will say it’s worth trying once, we won’t blame you if you’d rather save yourself the trouble and make yourself a pitcher of good, old-fashioned sangria instead.

Sherry is proudly Spanish

Just like the French’s champagne, which you can’t produce anywhere other than its namesake province, Sherry can only be produced in the Jerez region, south of Spain. During the 16th century, Sherry made its way throughout Europe, even garnering that century’s title as the finest European wine. Despite its notoriety as an old-person drink, there’s so many Sherry varieties that it’s not hard to find one that fits your tastes the best.

Spanish wines are truly remarkable for their rich history and sheer variety of flavour profiles. So during your next party, bring out a bottle of Rioja or Sherry and go dazzle your friends with the fun facts you just learned about Spanish wines.

by Ashalyn Chelle for Catalunya Casas


Cava: Meet Catalonia’s sparkling star beverage

Italy has prosecco, France has champagne, and the United States has sparkling wine. Spain’s own version of this bubbly beverage — known as cava — rounds out the list as a sparkling treat to be treasured during your next visit to Catalonia.

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The alcoholic drink grown from grapes can (technically) only be called ‘champagne’ if it is produced in the region of France with the same name. Thus, various countries in the world that bottle their own versions have also adopted their own nomenclature.

Catalonia’s signature beverage was first produced as a sparkling wine in 1872. It is grown and nurtured in eight different growing regions in northeastern Spain, including Catalonia in which there are 11 districts of origin. One of these districts, Penedès, is responsible for producing 95% of the nation’s cava.

Spain makes every attempt to produce its cava using only Spanish grapes, but French varieties make appeareances every now and then. The three grapes that are used in cava production are macabeu, parellada, and xarello, all of which are white grapes.

Cava is grown from grapes, just like wine.
Cava is grown from grapes, just like wine.

In order to be considered cava, the wine must be produced using the traditional méthode champenoise, (or in Spanish, the método tradicional) which involves a second fermentation period that takes place in the bottle.

The sparkling beverage — available in both white and rosé varieties, the latter of which is mixed with a darker Spanish grape called Garnacha — is often served at special occasions such as birthdays, weddings, and baptisms. Spain’s most famous cava producers are Freixenet and Codorníu, both of which offer tours and tastings at their facilities in Catalonia.

To learn more about these excursions and how to reserve your place on a cava tour, visit the Attractions page on our website.

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