Spanish Wine

Eating and drinking in Spain always go together and, more often than not, the drinks are just as important as the food they accompany.  The long list of Spanish wines can be daunting at times, so while in Zaragoza why not go for one of the local options.  The most recognised wine growing regions of the area include: Cariñena, Campo de Borja, Calatayud, and Somantano for delicious whites, or reds too. The areas of Cariñena and Caltayud are also well known for their production of crisp sparkling white or rosé wine called "cava" (like champagne). It used to be called the Spanish Champagne, before the EU came into existence, and with the request of the French,  banned the use of this important name outside of the famous area in France.

After meals you may see some locals ordering a shot or "chupito" of  orujo, which is a herbal liquer that is said to be good for digestion.  Followed by the all important, often third or fourth, coffee of the day.  Don't be afraid to order yourself a little whiskey or Baileys to add either.  It's quite common here and is called a "carajillo".

Spain has a long tradition of wine making and is the third largest producer of wine in the world, just after France and Italy.  It is however, the country with the largest land area that is actually used for wine production.  Spain, being blessed with a gloriously sunny climate, and influences from both the Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea, is the perfect place for growing a wide range of high quality grapes, with high yields in many areas, year after year.  And as a result, has over 72 recognised growing regions in the country.

The area that definitely stands out above the rest has got to be La Rioja.  Known for its prominent bouquet and distinct flavour, it has grown in popularity to become recognised as one of the world's finest wine regions. Choices of reds usually are distinguished by the aging. For example, Cosecha" vino joven", or vintage, means it's a young wine and not aged in a wood barrel. Crianzas have been aged for at least 2 years with one year in oak. Reservas have been aged for at least 3 years, with 2 of those in oak. Finally, Gran Reservas are aged for at least 5 years, with at least 18 months in oak and 3 or more years in the bottle or winery.

Another internationally known Spanish wine is sherry, or what's known here as "Vino de Jerez". This special drink from Andalucia started off as something that British Merchants took a liking to while in the country, and is now exported and enjoyed all over the world. Different kinds of sherry to try are: Manzanilla, Fino, Amontillado, Oloroso, or Los Dulces (the sweet sherries).  It is also common to use sherry for cooking purposes, especially when it comes to making soups, stews or sauces.

Other notable wine regions in Spain are: Ribera del duero, Priorat, Rías Baixes, Rueda, Toro and the Canary Islands.  In Aragon there are four wine growing regions that have gained the D.O. (Denominacion of Origin) recognition: Cariñena, Campo de Borja,  Calatayud, and Somontano.