Spain has between 955,717 and 1,2 million hectares of vineyards, which makes it the country with the largest cultivated area of vineyards in the world, which has more than 15% of the world total. It is also the third in production (36,8 million hectoliters), just behind Italy (48,8 million hectoliters) and France (41,9 million hectoliters), and ahead of United States (22,5 million hectoliters).
These quantities are the result of the dry climate and infertile soil of many Spanish wine regions. The Spaniards drink about 21 liters of wine per year per person. It seems a high amount of wine, but it is much less than in other Mediterranean countries. Furthermore, it is a low amount of wine that contrasts with the production and wine tradition in the country.
The Spanish gape has more than 600 varieties planted throughout the country, although 80% of wine production in Spain is: Albariño, Garnacha, Tempranillo, Palomino, Airén, Parellada, Macabeo, Cariñena and Monastrell.
The wine has a long history, besides being a very wide field that has a lot of secrets to discover. In this article, you will discover a piece of the amazing world of wine.
History and culture of wine
There are many studies prepared by archaeologists who believe that the first grapes were cultivated between 4000 and 3000 BC, so it was long before the Phoenicians founded the city of Cádiz in 100 BC.
First, it was the role of Phoenicians. Then, the role of the Carthaginians was to develop the techniques of vineyard cultivation, before the Romans discovered the importance of the Spanish as a great source of wine to supply their entire empire.
Then, it came the Muslim domination that prohibited alcohol consumption. Although it meant a slowdown in the expansion of wine, the Muslims contributed with their knowledge about the agrarian field to the improvement of the Spanish vineyard.
Over the centuries, there was a great development in the wine of Jerez and La Rioja. But, it also suffered difficult times: the Spanish grape suffered the threat of the aphid called phylloxera and was also influenced by the outbreak of the Spanish civil war.
The war brought with it a very dark period for the Spanish vineyard, which didn’t begin to raise and resurface until after the middle of the 20th century. In the seventies, Spanish wine began to gain worldwide influence, and in the 80s, there was a great revolution of the Spanish vineyard.
Nowadays, Spanish wine has a very good reputation. It has a good reputation for quantity and quality. For this, it is considered a great competitor in the world.
With the name of Spanish wine, it is designated both the product as the social act that accompanies inaugurations or similar events, including a toast. It is a widespread social custom to take wines accompanied by tapas in bars or taverns.
According to the container used and the greater or lesser quantity served, they are called the glass of wine (vaso de vino), the cup of wine (copa), wine tasting (taza), short (corto), flat wine (chato), or txikito (this last expression is from Basque Country).
In the past, the wine was measured in the tavern, usually in a quart of wine if it was going to be consumed in the place, or in large measures (four quarts of wine) if it was to be shared among several drinkers or bought to take home.
The wine was kept in barrels, pitchers, wineskins, or pitchers, which were in the same tavern. Since the second half of the twentieth century, the most common is to serve it from bottles (the most usual wine measure is 750 ml). In Catalonia and other areas, the use of the “porrón” was habitual.
Varieties of grapes and types of wine
As we have already explained at the beginning of this article, there are more than 600 grapes varieties planted throughout Spain, although only 20 grapes varieties concentrate 80% of the country’s wine production.
In this article, we explain the best-known grape varieties in Spain.
The most extensively planted grape is the Airen White, which was highly prized for its vigor and endurance. Airen is mostly found in central Spain and served for many years as the base for Spanish brandy. The wines made with this grape can be very alcoholic and with a tendency to oxidation.
The tempranillo red grape is the second most widely planted grape variety, and Garnacha is another widely planted grape variety. Both Tempranillo and Garnacha are used to make full-bodied reds associated with Rioja, Ribera Duero, and Penedès.
In the northwest, the White wine varieties of Albariño and Verdejo are popular grapes in the Rías Bajas and Rueda respectively. The Cava produced in the regions of Catalonia and other parts of Spain is made mainly with grapes from Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel·lo, that are also used for the production of White wines. In the south, the main grapes are Palomino and Pedro Ximénez.
With the modernization of the Spanish wine industry, it has increased the presence of international varieties, which appear both in mixtures and varietal production. In particular, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Syrah and Sauvignon blanc. There are other Spanish varieties cultivated significantly such as Cariñena, Godello, Graciano, Mencía, Loureira, and Treixadura.
Types of wine
In Spain, the category and quality of wines are regulated by the law “Ley 24/2003 de la Viña y el Vino”. There are different types of wine because the European legislation classifies them into three categories according to their geographical protection and the degree of demand in their manufacturing process.
The appellation of origin wine (Vino con Denominación de Origen): “Appellation of origin” is a specific area where an agricultural product is produced and processed, and this product has characteristics related to aspects of the geographical environment. The main function of this category is to protect the product that belongs to a certain area, as well as its traditions and history of these places.
The department in charge of standardizing this situation is the Regulatory Council. Each Appellation of Origin has its Regulatory Board that safeguard its economic and social interests.
The most renowned Appellations of Origin in Spain are Rioja and Ribera de Duero, even so, there is nothing more than 69 Spanish appellations.
Land wine: These wines belong to specific regions with specific characteristics, but they don’t belong to any appellation.
Table wine: they don’t belong to any Appellation of Origin, and they are not obliged to specify any information about their origin, year or variety.
The Mallorca’s wine
The reputation of Mallorca’s wine is increasing. There are many varieties on the island, but they have great difficulty in their production. The first family and more characteristic are Mallorcan sparkling wines. These wines are more difficult to market due to the great fame that the canvas of the peninsula has.
In the case of the Mallorca’s White wines, they are the protagonists in summer as perfect companions of fish and seafood. The most popular are Som dels Cavallers de Galmés i Ribot de Santa Margalida, which are made with native grape varieties.
The demand for pink wines is increasing. The pink wines combine perfectly with pasta, pizzas or spicy food. There are two very different styles, some of a higher tone like Echo or Ses Nines, and those with a paler color like the Felanitx.
Finally, the red wine. There is one red wine that doesn’t stand out for its great popularity, but for being a good choice in summer to drink red wine but fresh. It is the Macià Batle, its name refers to the technique used in its preparation, which creates wines with lots of fruit and soft.
However, the most numerous group of wines is undoubtedly the group of wines aged in oak barrels.
This is just the tip of the great iceberg of the wine world. A field that deserves a lot of time and dedication to get to discover all its secrets. In Dompick, we help you find your dream house.