Summertime is for taking things a little less seriously – and that goes for wine too. Those summer days are dwindling. (Sorry – Don’t kill the messenger!) Time to take advantage of this laid-back vibe and try something new in final days of summer.So where should chill drinkers turn? Say “hola” to Espana!No matter what your predilection, Spain has got a vino for you: Cracklingly crisp Cavas; mineral-rich, unique whites; round, ripe and refreshing rosados; and silky, sexy reds.Not sure where to start? Check the guide below, for advice on terminology, styles and regions.
Sparkling Come here, CAVA! Those ingenious Spaniards came up with a method that mimics Champagne’s Methode Traditionelle providing bubbles that offer serious bang for the buck. They are also bone-dry, offering the perfect base for patio party cocktails: French 75s (or maybe we should say Spanish 75s), Champagne Cocktails, Mimosas and Bellinis.
White Wines: Spain offers some of the most refreshing crisp white wines that are almost always made from traditional varieties indigenous to the region. They are unique and interesting, often aromatic with lovely minerality…. AND they are incredibly affordable.These wines are listed in order from lightest to fullest, proving that Spanish wine offer a little something for everyone.
Txakoli: This effervescent, mineral-rich bone-dry Basque beauty is perfect for afternoon sipping… or swigging as the case may be. Never fear – these highly drinkable wines usually clock in at 11% alcohol.Albarino: The basis for wines from the Rias Baixas region. These vinos are thirst-quenchingly delicious, brimming with stone fruit, high acidity and a clean crisp finish.
Godello: This grape almost went extinct in the 1970s, but it was saved by some determined wine makers in Valdeorras, Ribeira Sacra and Bierzo. Good thing, as it has become the darling of many sommeliers. It is often likened Chardonnay for its neutral character, and thus the ability to adapt to bend to the whims of the wine maker and the land in which it is grown.
Verdejo: This Sauvignon Blanc doppelganger makes some stellarly crisp, yet full and luscious whites in the Rueda region.
Viura: Did you know that your red Rioja also has a white sister? If you did, then auplasos, and drink up. If not, here’s the scoop: Viura is a sturdy grape that is better known as Macabeo in the rest of Spain, where it is also used to make Cava (see above). At their best, these wines possess delicately floral aromas, flavors of lime peel, young cantaloupe, toasted almonds, a crisp acidity and an almost creamy palate.
Rosado Wines: Spanish roses are known as rosados, and bear little resemblance to their pale pink counterparts in France. These wines are not a bashful pink, but a deep and passionate shade of hot pink to bright red. Translucency is the only true visual differentiaor from their room-temp brethren. The best examples are made from Garnacha and Tempranillo, hailing from several regions. Navarro is most notable, but Riojas also rock as do rosados from Jumilla, Alicante and Cigales.
Red Wines Spanish reds are known for being silky, earthy and great values. They range in style from light and fruity to some of the richest wines in the world, and Grand Reservas that are beautifully aged upon release. Tempranillo is king and Rioja and Toro are the most famous for it, but Navarro and Priorat are making a name for themselves with rockin’ Garnacha and Jumilla is bringing Monastrell into the limelight.
Tempranillo: This grape is the pride of Spain and the most widely planted red in the country. It is best known for producing Rioja, which – depending on aging – can range from Burgundian sleekness to Bordelaise gravitas depending upon the length of aging. However, it also rocks in the dark and brooding wines of Ribero del Duero.Monastrell: This grape is better known as Mourvedre in French where it lends structure and floral elegance to southern Rhone reds. In Spain it dominates wines from the Jumilla region, and is the basis of a number of terrific rosés.Grenache: Another rock star of the southern Rhone reds which lives under an alias in Spain, where it is better known as Garnacha. Here it is used as blending grape in Rioja, but shines when it flies solo in Navarro and Priorat. The wines are juicy, fresh, spicy and offer stellar bang for the buck.
Writer Amy Ullman is the irrationally exuberant founder of Wine for Rookies. She received a Bachelor of Liberal Arts from Harvard University in 2009 with concentrations in Economics and French. She holds the title of Certified Sommelier from the Court of Master Sommeliers, a Certified Specialist of Wine through the Society of Wine Educators, and is currently working on her Diploma of Wine and Spirits via the Wine and Spirits Education Trust.