Spanish Wine Regions

Drenched in sunshine, Spain’s fruits of the vine do just fine.

From big rich reds to fresh, crisp whites, from fruity roses to fortified sherries to sparkling wines–Spain does it all.

Spain’s wine history extends back to pre-Roman times, to the Phoenicians, an ancient seafaring people whose original home is present-day Lebanon. The story of wine in Spain is characterized by many ups and downs–up when Spanish wine was exported to Rome; down when the Roman Empire collapsed; down again when the Moors conquered the peninsula; up when the English were turned on to sherry; up again when French vintners relocated to Spain and revitalized an antiquated industry after suffering double-barreled blows of odium (a grape-destroying mildew) and Phylloxera (a root-wrecking louse) back home; down when civil and world wars devastated Spain and Europe.

This leads us to the past few decades, a period that has seen Spanish wine enjoy a sustained upward arrow, with quality greatly improved throughout the country. Even so, the best-known Spanish wines remain cava, Rioja, and sherry–three very different wines made in three very different regions.

Let’s take a look at Spain’s most important wine regions–those that carry cache, like cava and sherry, and those that might fly just a bit under the consumer’s radar–and pair a few recipes with the wines from each place.