For centuries, Spain relies on its grape varieties to make its own wine. Grapes varieties alone say little about the wine’s quality. However, the type of grape can give a hint to the final product. For a country like Spain, which is one of the largest global wine producers, globalization has had little effect on the country’s wine industry.
Adapting grape varieties helps Spain to defy environmental limitation
Spain is too dry and hot for the growth of Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Riesling. However, leveraging on over 5,000 years of winemaking tradition, Spain wineries are able to overcome these shortcomings. This includes setting up vineyards at an altitude of 1,300 meters (the highest in the world).
Another reason why Spain’s winemakers have not fallen to globalization has to do with the attachment of the consumers to the distinctive traditional brew. Nevertheless, Spain’s wine critics accuse the industry of favoring mass wine production over class. Consequently, Spain has the best wine price-performance ratio.
Spain is recovering from poor wine reputation
Spain’s wine industry critics are not all wrong. Spain exports a huge quantity of its wine for blending. This often leads to wild adulteration. Moreover, the country has 176 grape varieties, and a large fraction of them are pure blends. The rest is a blend of local special wines or variants from Germany, France, and the rest of the globe. However, we’ll focus on Spain’s popular native varieties.
Tempranillo (best red wine)
This is the grape used for the production of Spain’s famous red wine. Its origin goes back to the La Rioja wine region. However, it dominates the Ribera del Duero region. +Tempranillo thrives in the temperate zones of the Spanish climate. It ripens a bit earlier than other grape varieties. Wines from Tempranillo have medium aging, fruity body, and strong storage potential. It is hard for Tempranillo to survive on its own but can easily combine with other wines for better stability.
Garnacha (versatile red and white wine)
Garnacha vines adapt better to the Spanish climate. It matures later in hot and dry summer. The grape has a red and white variant. The red variant is the most grown red wine grape across the globe. Several regions are claiming to be the originators of this grape and fighting for its patent. It has low acid and easily blends with other grapes.
Bobal (revamp wine)
This grape has a strong color (purple). Also, it is rich in tannin with medium acidity and subtle herbal notes. In recent years, winemakers are promoting it as a rose. Winemakers often rely on its qualities to revamp other wines.
Monastrell (the powerhouse)
Existing as far back as 500 BC, Monastrell is famous for its thick skin. Today, it is grown in various parts of the world. When it comes to usage for red wine production, it ranks fourth in Spain. The maturation process takes longer, and it can store for longer periods too.
Airén (bulk wine)
Airén is a white grape variety that makes up a quarter of every grapevine in Spain. It’s found largely in Madrid, Andalusia, and Murcia. Airén is a bushy native variety with ample yield. However, this variety matures late, has a clean aroma, straight taste, and pale color.
The popularity of Verdejo has grown in the last few decades. It is one of Spain’s most popular white wines and combines well with Sauvignon blanc or Viura. Moreover, the intense citrus notes and bitter almond aroma is impressive.
Albariño (northern white star)
It originates from Galicia in Spain’s north-west. However, the wine has become a major seafood companion. Legends have it that the grape is an inheritance of the Knights Templar. When mature and dry, Albariño is complex with strong acidity.
Moscatel (family wine)
Moscatel is a broad family of grapes with over 200 members. It is argued that it might be the oldest wine with origin going back to Egypt. It produces sweet wines, table grapes, and raisins. Also, Moscatel is approved for sherry production.