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.
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.
When we think about Catalan wines (which are perfect for enjoying at your luxury villa with private pool in Spain!), we tend to think about the major wine-growing regions such as DO Empordà from northern Catalonia and DO Alella wines from the Mediterranean coast. We rarely stop to consider one of Catalonia’s smallest wine-growing regions: Pla de Bages, located within the Province of Barcelona.
About Pla de Bages
Covering just 600 hectares, Pla de Bages is the smallest DO region in all of Catalonia, but despite its size it certainly has a lot to offer. Believed to be named after Bacchus, the Roman God of Wine, a large number of grape varieties are grown here, including the red varieties of Garnatxa and Ull de Llebre and picapoll for white wines. Boasting two different types of soil, Pla de Bages is renowned for its diverse offerings.
Right on Trend
Believe it or not, Pla de Bages is actually one of the oldest locations in Barcelona for wine growing, but its agricultural challenges of the past have made growth and development slower than other regions. However, thanks to the influx of ‘boutique’ wines on offer here, Pla de Bages is said to the ‘the next big thing’ in Catalan wines, offering trendier reds, whites, and sparkling cavas than their competitors.
Visiting Pla de Bages
There are a number of tours that you can take of Pla de Bages, which take you right into the heart of the 13th-century chateau where the magic happens, and demonstrate the processes that help this region offer the highest quality wines in Barcelona. For easy access to the region, rent a house in Barcelona and rent a car locally; it’s less than an hour’s drive from the city centre to Pla de Bages.
Catalonian wines are usually quite high in alcohol content and are full bodied, which is due to the warm weather conditions in the region and the varieties of grape that can be grown. If you are looking for an amazing Catalonian wine to sip by the pool in your villa in Spain or would like to be more knowledgeable when ordering wine while dining at a restaurant, here are a few tips to help you out.
Catalonian wines focus predominantly on grapes of the Mediterranean variety, including the red grapes Carignan and Garnacha, and the white grapes of Garnacha Blanca and Xarel-lo.
Garnacha grapes produce low acidity wines with a fragrant wild strawberry or raspberry flavour. They are quite powerful and can also be used in fortified wines.
The Carignan is also a grape that is used to produce red wines but can be blended with other varieties. It’s quite high in tannins and acidity but makes it a great partner with fruitier and fuller bodied wines such as Syrah.
Throughout Catalonia you will find the grapes of the Cabernet Sauvignon variety, which are the base flavour for many California reds or Bordeaux wines. These grapes produce a deep coloured red wine with an oaky aroma and taste. Merlot can also be found in the region, which offers a supple texture and blend and can be drunk earlier than many other wines as it doesn’t need to be left to age as long. However, if you prefer a spicy full-bodied wine that has been aged, then hold out for a Syrah.
The most common grape in this region of Spain has to be the Tempranillo, the grapes of which make a very popular wine filled with berry and plum flavours, with spiced tobacco notes. The depth of flavours relates to the time it has been left to age.
All of these flavoursome wines can be purchased from local supermarkets close to your Catalonia villa rental or even local vineyards. Take a look at where your nearest vineyard is in relation to your villa in Spain and buy direct from the source. Gain a tour of the vineyard and understand the winemaking process by speaking with the local vintners. Salut!
Having an inimitable character in a story line can be a challenge, but once you have a grip on the right slant, you can go on and on. After succeeding in a plot around Spanish wines, I was awed by the huge reputation it enjoys and the nonquantifiable gift that nature has bestowed with the favorable Mediterranean weather.
I could not but gush and feel cheated that some people live all their lives in such an environment that promises a 24/7 holiday scenery while the rest of us are harassed by a mix of extreme winters and haunted by the fading autumn.
It is a rare delight to see the process that goes into the production of Spanish wines: from the orchards where the wine trees are grown to the winery that presses out the vintage taste. Here, you come face to face with the enterprise that has such legendary reputation. Planning a month-long vacation around the orchards of Catalonia gave me a unique opportunity to observe how the orchards are kept and maintained.
I could see the farms through the eyes of my slowly but firmly developing lead character that I have pictured as San Pedro and his wife, Serita. I could see tourists who have on their schedule, wine tasting routines that showed their love for Spanish wines, and the lure of the countryside with its romantic slant. I could imagine San Pedro and his wife enjoying their honeymoon on the fringe of the orchards, where a castle stood in regal fashion.
The flowing streams found at the mountain range around the Catalan region formed a building block of the early life of San Pedro‘s family. Escaping to the streams was a sort of ritual that they could not do without every day as the evening sets in. You can appreciate the mix of Spanish wines, flowing streams and an orchard in one package. This should not sound like a fairy tale, as many tourists who troop to this lovely terrain, have more than an experience that they can relive.
Making an escape to Catalan orchards part of your yearly vacation, will not be just a refreshing routine but a rejuvenating experience that gives you the closest short to experience nature. All of this in an untainted ecosystem that offers everyone, some reprieve from the stress of daily life. At eventide, Spanish wines are there to enjoy, from vintage secrets to fresh brews, the range of options is more than salivating to tourists that find a second home around here.
People can always have what they desire if they take time to plan and prepare for it. Your Catalan escape will be no different from this if you make your bookings and get your budget ready for that experience of a lifetime.